By Cesare Milanti / email@example.com
BRESCIA, Italy – After facing each other in three straight LBA Finals, Olimpia Milano and Virtus Bologna stepped on the court of the PalaLeonessa in Brescia for the first official game of the season in Italy, playing the semifinal of the 2023 Italian Supercup, won by Luca Banchi’s side 78-73.
Tornike Shengelia was by far the best player on his team, as he had 13 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists. Providing energy and intensity on both sides of the floor, Awudu Abass ended the first win of Virtus Bologna’s season with 10 points. Jordan Mickey helped on the glass with 13 points and 3 boards, while the team’s captain Marco Belinelli had 15 points with 9/11 at the free-throw line.
After four years in Barcelona, Nikola Mirotic played his first official game with Ettore Messina’s team, ending the encounter by going close to a double-double with 15 points and 8 rebounds. Shavon Shields was a factor for Olimpia Milano on offense, as the former Baskonia forward provided 26 points but had to leave the court earlier with 1:52 minutes left after committing his fifth foul. Coming back from years on loan, Giordano Bortolani added 12 points off the bench.
The first quarter saw the two Italian forces struggle from the field, as Virtus Bologna ended the opening ten minutes up only by two points (14-12). In the second quarter, Milano stepped up on offense especially dragged by Shavon Shields reaching a seven-point lead (32-25) with 2:27 minutes left, but the black-and-white side remained close and went to the locker room up by two points (34-32) closing a 9-0 run with a step back three-pointer by Daniel Hackett.
The second half saw Virtus Bologna get the early seven-point lead (46-39) with 6:19 minutes on the clock, while the tense nerves increased as time passed. Both Luca Banchi and Ettore Messina, in fact, were awarded technical fouls, just like Shavon Shields. The newcomer Jaleen Smith put his team up by 11 points with a three-pointer later on, and the black-and-whites went to the fourth quarter up 59-53.
In the last quarter, Olimpia Milano started things off better than the opponents, as Shavon Shields reduced the gap up to three points (64-61) with a three-pointer off the inbound at 7:57 minutes on the clock. Tornike Shengelia put his team back on track with a thunderous dunk for a 2+1 play in transition. Kevin Pangos gave Milano the lead once again at 69-68 with 3:10 left. The game remained on the edge all throughout the end of the forty minutes, which saw Virtus Bologna come out on top.
Considering the high amount of players in the respective teams, there were a lot of absences in the first official encounter of the season for Olimpia Milano and Virtus Bologna. Maodo Lo, Ismael Kamagate, Diego Flaccadori, Kyle Hines, and Billy Baron were out for the red-and-white team; Iffe Lundberg, Leo Menalo, and Ognjen Dobric didn’t play for Luca Banchi’s newest team.
Virtus Segafredo Bologna will now face the winner of the second semifinal of the Italian Supercup 2023 between the Italian Cup champions Germani Brescia and Bertram Yachts Derthona Tortona, scheduled at 20:45 CET. The final will be played tomorrow at 18:00 CET.
PHOTO CREDIT: Virtus Segafredo Bologna
Source: Euro Hoops