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Good News! A Blazer Title (Sort Of)

Our friendly Finnish sportswriter friend comes through with some sunny news just in time to help clear the drizzle of the last couple playoff games:

Koponen, Virtus Bologna celebrate FIBA EuroChallenge championship 

Italian Serie A powerhouse Virtus Bologna defeated French Cholet Basket 77-75 (45-39) Sunday afternoon in FIBA EuroChallenge Cup final. 

Keith Langford lead Virtus with 21 points and 4 rebounds. Earl Boykins ended up with 18 and 5 while Sharrod Ford registered a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Cholet Basket was lead by 22-year old French shooting guard prospect Nando De Colo (24/4), Claude Marquis (17/10) and Randall Falker (13/11). 

Finnish point guard Petteri Koponen (6-4, 1988), whose NBA rights are currently owned by the Portland Trailblazers, performed very well in limited minutes. After logging his first DNP-CD since early October in semi-final, Koponen responded with a determined effort in both ends of the court in the final. 

Koponen entered the game in the middle of second quarter, with Virtus Bologna leading 35-27. He immediately drained a three pointer and dished the ball to Sharrod Ford for a dunk. After returning to bench in the start of the second half, Koponen returned to the game in the middle of third quarter. During Koponen's 11-minute stint on the court, Bologna extended its lead from 54-46 to 74-61. Nando De Colo scored five points during the 14 minutes Koponen was guarding him. 

After Koponen headed to bench for good, Cholet Basket was able to make a late 12-3 run lead by De Colo, who scored 8 of Cholet's 12 points during that period. De Colo's jump shot brought Cholet within one point with 31 seconds remaining, and Virtus' Keith Langford was able to make one of his free throws with just 22 seconds to play. Cholet had the last possession and the ball was delivered to De Colo, who missed a contested jump shot with clock ticking down. 

Koponen finished with 4 points (3pt 1/2, Ft 1/2), 3 rebounds, 1 assists, 1 turnover and 2 personal fouls in 16 minutes of play. 

Koponen started 11 of Virtus Bologna's 15 games in EuroChallenge campaign, averaging 5,8 points, 1,9 rebounds, 1 assist and 0,9 turnovers in 18,1 minutes per game, while shooting relatively well (FT .875% 2p .586% 3p .394%). Koponen's highest point total in one game was 17 points against Turkish team Galatasaray. 

EuroChallenge is third highest European club competition behind Euroleague and FIBA EuroCup. 

Here's a picture of Petteri (#6) in action:  Click for Pic!


Thanks to our friend in Finland for the update!

--Dave (