One more: Virtus Bologna are on the verge of fulfilling their EuroLeague dream / News

After winning the EuroCup semifinal against Valencia in Spain, Virtus Bologna’s players headed to the locker room. While exiting the court, Marco Belinelli, Toko Shengelia, and Daniel Hackett all had one finger up, showing their fans that despite the win, the job was not done yet.

Points this season

Wednesday evening will undoubtedly be the most important night in the recent history of Virtus Segafredo Bologna.

Since the arrival of Massimo Zanetti, who became the main owner of the club when the team was playing in the second division, the end game has always been the same for Virtus: getting back to the splendors of the past and bringing back EuroLeague basketball to the city of Bologna.

The last time Virtus played in EuroLeague was back in the 2007-08 season when Claudio Sabatini was the owner. Now, the situation is completely different.

Virtus Bologna are one of the most ambitious teams in the entire European landscape, and they want EuroLeague badly.

The disappointment for failing to qualify for EuroLeague last season, when the team lost in the semifinals against UNICS Kazan, was so evident and vibrant that despite winning the Italian Serie A, coach Djordjevic was let go at the end of the season (after the team had already fired him during the season and then reinstated him in a span of 48 hours).

“When the players were leaving the court in Valencia, they looked at me and told me: ‘One more, the job is not done yet,’ Luca Baraldi, the CEO of the club, said. “That’s a great mindset for such an important game that we will play on Wednesday. Winning the EuroCup would close the list of goals we gave ourselves five years ago.”

Marco Belinelli, the captain of Virtus Bologna, repeated the mantra that despite the important win in the semifinal against a big team like Valencia, the job is not done yet.

Virtus Bologna / Schedule

“EuroLeague is only one game away,” Belinelli said in a recent interview. “But I want to be clear: we haven’t won anything yet, the job is not done yet. We all know how important the final will be. The team knows what it’s expected. Since two months ago, we changed a lot, and we improved.”

With the deadline additions of Hackett and Shengelia, both arrived from CSKA Moscow after EuroLeague decided to suspend all the Russian teams from the competition, Virtus Bologna clearly changed their pace.

From March 3rd, the Italian club won 8 of the 9 games played in EuroCup, losing only once against Cedevita Olimpija at home. The results were even better in the Italian league, with 12 wins in the last 13 matches of the Serie A regular season.

The arrivals of Hackett and Shengelia brought the adjustments that Virtus needed at the most important moment of the season. Experience, leadership, and defense. Both Hackett and Shengelia provided those elements since the first few games they played in Bologna, just as coach Scariolo wanted.

After the initial doubts about the potential continuity of Shengelia with Virtus beyond this season, since the player signed a deal only until the end of the season, now it looks increasingly likely that Shengelia will remain in Bologna for at least the next two seasons, a source told BasketNews.

The Georgian forward adapted pretty quickly to the city, and his family is enjoying the lifestyle of the Emilian hills. Inside the club, there’s optimism that in the end, Shengelia will sign a new contract with Virtus, despite the reported interest from Spain, especially from Barcelona.

But before all that, Virtus Bologna needs to win one more game, the EuroCup final against Turkish side Frutti Extra Bursaspor, a team that surprised everyone, eliminating Partizan Belgrade, Cedevita Olimpija, and MoraBanc Andorra in the playoffs and doing so playing always on the road.

A remarkable achievement for a team that wasn’t anywhere near among the favorites to reach this stage of the competition.

John Holland, his teammates, and their pit bull mentality have already generated major interest, and they’ll arrive in Bologna with nothing to lose. At the end of the day, they already overcame teams that, on paper, were much stronger than them.

But Virtus have been preparing for this moment for years now. Getting back to the EuroLeague level has always been their main priority. Everyone in the organization knows how much is at stake for the club.

“We have prepared for this game seriously, as always,” coach Scariolo said to the reporters before the game. “The balance between keeping emotions under control and remaining focused is always very personal. The ones who are more experienced can help the others.”

“We have to go on the court with all the game details in our head. It would be naive to expect an easy game,” Scariolo continued. “Bursaspor is a great team, with good shooters and an efficient offensive system.”

With the uncertain situation surrounding the Russian teams for the next season, there might be the general feeling that Virtus Bologna can play in the EuroLeague regardless of the result of the EuroCup final.

However, securing a spot on Wednesday would give the club much more security heading into the next season and more time to plan the necessary moves to strengthen the roster.

Except for the long-term injured players, Ekpe Udoh and Awudu Abass, all the other players will be available for Virtus Bologna. Although both Milos Teodosic and Alessandro Pajola are not at 100% of their condition. But it’s a final, and it’s a crucial one for the club’s future, so there’s no pain or minor injury that couldn’t be overcome.

Years in the making, and now it’s here, but Virtus Bologna needs one more win before they can celebrate and become once again part of the elite of European basketball.

Job is not done yet. Coach Scariolo and his players need another extra effort. They know that, and that’s why they are where they are right now.

In front of their fans, there’ll be no room for mistakes, there’s not going to be a second chance. For Virtus Bologna, it’s time to turn their dream finally into reality.

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