The Other Reserve Point Guard

Our friendly Finnish sportswriter sends us this update on Petteri Koponen:

Koponen, Bologna two points away from Italian Cup championship

Petteri Koponen and his Italian Serie A team Virtus Bologna had an impressive run in the Italian Cup Final Eight at Bologna's FuturShow Station last weekend. Bologna managed to cut through Lottomatica Roma (85-76) and Bancatercas Teramo (98-90) before eventually meeting Euroleague team Montepaschi Siena - still undefeated in Italian Serie A play - in the final.

Montepaschi Siena hopped to an early lead in the finals and tried to pull away in the end of the second quarter of the final, leading 40-29. However, Keith Langford and Earl Boykins pulled Virtus back in the game just before halftime. In the second half of the game, Virtus Bologna was pretty near upsetting Siena with their 1-3-1 zone defence. Keith Langford scored a jumper with just over a minute remaining to put Bologna up 69-68. Henry Domercant answered with a jumper of his own with just 50 seconds remaining to give Siena the lead.

In the last 50 seconds, Siena's defensive routine proved to be too much for Virtus. Bologna turned the ball over twice and Siena was able to maintain the lead. Siena won the cup championship game 70-69. It almost was a perfect weekend for Virtus Bologna, and even though they didn't quite get the title, their cup appereance was enough for them to land a very probable Euroleague spot for 2009/2010.

Petteri Koponen started all three games in the Italian Cup Final 8 for Virtus Bologna. He played limited minuted in all games, but managed to make his presence known in quarterfinal and the final. Koponen struggled in the beginning against Montepaschi Siena and was pulled away after just four minutes of play, but when he entered the game at the end of the third quarter, he answered with a buzzer-beating three, a defensive rebound, a jumper from the free throw line and some very determined defence. Koponen was pulled from the game with just five minutes remaining, mostly because of his inexperience in big games. He had 5 points, 1 rebound and 1 assist in 13 minutes of play in the final.

In quarterfinal game against Lottomatica Roma, Koponen had 3 points and 1 rebound in 18 minutes of play, but he clearly had an effect in the game guarding Lottomatica's starting point guard Ibrahim Jaaber, who scored 9 poins on 3-9 field goal shooting. (Brandon Jennings had 5 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist and 1 steal in 12 minutes for Lottomatica.)

In semifinal game against Bancatercas Teramo, Petteri was clearly out of rhythm, ending up with just one missed field goal and one personal foul in 9 minutes of play.

To sum it up, it was once again one more learning experience for Petteri Koponen. Even though his offence is improving and defence is already quite near professional level, he occasionally shows his youth on the court. One day he'll be wearing that Blazer uniform, but before that, he needs to pick up everything he can from Italian League play.

Here's Petteri Koponen's stats from Serie A this season:

  • Games 19
  • Starts 9
  • Minutes 14,3
  • Points 3,2
  • Rebounds 1,0
  • Assists 0,9
  • Steals 0,8
  • Turnovers 1,2
  • Blocks 0,1
  • 2pt field goals 50,0%
  • 3pt field goals 21,4%
  • Free throws 70,8%

In FIBA EuroChallenge Cup, he's doing a little better:

  • Games 9
  • Starts 8
  • Minutes 20,6
  • Points 6,3
  • Rebounds 2,0
  • Assists 1,3
  • Steals 1,0
  • Turnovers 1,1
  • 2pt field goals 50,0%
  • 3pt field goals 36,4%
  • Free throws 100,0%
  • There you go!  All of you Petteri junkies can get your groove on now.

    --Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

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