Iffe Lundberg gave Virtus Bologna another EuroLeague night of madness

2024-02-02T22:39:56+00:00 2024-02-02T23:00:57+00:00.

Cesare Milanti

02/Feb/24 22:39


Luca Banchi’s team extended its EuroLeague home winning-streak to 11 consecutive games

By Cesare Milanti / info@eurohoops.net

BOLOGNA, Italy – Last year, it looked like Bologna was suddenly put way closer to Belgrade considering how many Partizan fans came to support the black-and-white Serbian side, honoring Predrag Danilovic for the first-ever clash between the two sides in the EuroLeague.

Tonight, fewer Serbian fans were present in the stands, and both teams’ icons weren’t in town, but the emotions still ran high from the first to the very last minute, with Virtus Bologna going up by 12 points, Partizan Belgrade restoring the lead following a 13-0 run, and some final minutes full of tension.

In the end, just like it already happened on the road in Belgrade and at home against Barcelona and Milano, Iffe Lundberg closed things up with a huge three-pointer with 35 seconds to go in the fourth quarter, calling the game and ending the night with 20 points and 5 rebounds.

To extend Virtus Bologna’s winning streak at home in the EuroLeague to 11 games, beating Zeljko Obradovic‘s team 88-84, Marco Belinelli – who scored 10 points in the third quarter – ended with the same amount. Protagonist of the final stretch, Isaia Cordinier added 12 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists.

In the post-game press conference, Luca Banchi praised Partizan Belgrade’s effort. “After such a game we are used to congratulating the winning team, but tonight it was a special night and both teams offered their fans and audience an amazing and exciting game. We want to give the proper respect to our opponents, who played one of their best games this season, especially on the road, with great continuity. We still have the spirit to believe and stay in the game until the very last possession”, he said.

On the Serbian team’s side, Kevin Punter finished with a huge losing effort of 22 points. James Nunnally and Aleksa Avramovic followed by combining 34 points in their team’s defeat. “It was a great game of basketball, with ups and downs of both teams. I’m very proud of the way my team played”, Zeljko Obradovic commented in the aftermath. “Luca [Banchi] does a great job, it’s obvious that it’s a team with a lot of possibility to go to the Final Four. They play very good basketball”, he added about Virtus.

Iffe Lundberg’s clutch season continues

Coming back to the Virtus Segafredo Arena – where he started the 2023-24 season after playing for ALBA Berlin -, Jaleen Smith scored the first two points of the encounter. With 3:59 minutes to go in the second quarter, the returning and most-anticipated Tornike Shengelia scored his first three-pointer (32-27) since injuring himself against Anadolu Efes in Round 21.

Seconds before halftime, Bryant Dunston blocked Kevin Punter in traffic, while Daniel Hackett wrote the four-point lead at 35-31. Virtus managed to end the second ahead despite recording 11 turnovers – 6 of them came in the first quarter. Isaia Cordinier gave Virtus Bologna the largest lead of the game at seven points (38-31) to enter the second half, but Alen Smailagic rapidly answered with a one-handed jam.

Later on, Marco Belinelli had one of his usual unbalanced three-pointers with a trip to the line included, and followed with the same weapon immediately afterward. Tornike Shengelia and Bryant Dunston‘s dunks restored the 10-point lead (51-41) at 5:36 in the third. Exiting the court at 3:57, Virtus Bologna’s captain got a standing ovation after scoring 10 points since coming out of the locker rooms at halftime.

With 52:07″ to go in the third, Kevin Punter banked in from the corner, drawing the foul and converting at the charity stripe despite Alen Smailagic not being awarded a traveling violation. Partizan Belgrade’s captain tied the game at 62-62 with 8:20 minutes to go, completing a 10-point run, while James Nunnally put his team up front at 6:49 on the clock, but Iffe Lundberg broke Partizan’s streak.

With six consecutive points, James Nunnally gave Partizan Belgrade its largest lead of the game at five points (75-70) with 4:09 minutes before the final buzzer, and PJ Dozier followed with a long-two. Iffe Lundberg stepped up late in the game as he has already done several times this season, and reduced the deficit to two points (77-75) at 2:10 left with a key pass to Isaia Cordinier. The French forward took over with four consecutive points, keeping the game tied. From then on, Iffe Lundberg decided the game, calling it.

After this double-game week and before the big break that will include the domestic cup and the 2025 FIBA EuroBasket Qualifiers, Partizan Belgrade will host Bayern Munich on February 8 at 20:30 CET for the EuroLeague Round 26; on the following day at the same time, Virtus will face AS Monaco in Bologna.

PHOTO CREDIT: Virtus Segafredo Bologna

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