Wurzburg knocking on Finals' door after burying Varese with first-leg avalanche
VARESE (Italy) - There is still 40 minutes of basketball to be played between s.Oliver Wurzburg and Pallacanestro Varese, but a first-leg masterclass in Italy has the Denis Wucherer-coached German side knocking on the Finals' door following an 89-66 road victory at the Enerxenia Arena on Wednesday.
Turning point: There were no early signs this could become a one-sided affair, but the visitors from Wurzburg flipped the script in the second quarter by holding Varese to just 12 points and building a double-digit 46-33 lead before halftime.
Game hero: After a relatively slow start, Jordan Hulls once again came off the bench to jump start Wurzburg's offense. Having collected 13 points in the first two periods, the sharpshooter finished the contest with a game-high 19 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals.
Stats don't lie: Tyler Cain was the only Varese player to have made more than half of his field goal attempts, going 7-of-8 from the field for 15 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks. The rest of the team finished the night with a 15-of-54 clip, a conversion rate of 27.8 percent.
Bottom line: There have been bigger comebacks in the history of the FIBA Europe Cup, but Varese will have a mountain to climb in the away leg in Germany, considering Wurzburg have lost only one game at home all season long.
They said: "I think our defense was the key to this win today. We made them take difficult shots throughout the game. We also rebounded very well and got it going in transition, our offense was flowing very well. But our coaching staff emphasizes that this is another 80-minute game. So we have to have the same focus and energy going into the second game. Actually even more focus because we'll be playing at home. But I believe we will come out with the right mindset and get another win to move on to the Finals." – s.Oliver Wurzburg center Gabe Olaseni
"First and foremost I want to thank our fans to have come all the way to Italy to support us. It was a great team win. Obviously it's great to come here and get a 23-point cushion. We did that and I hope we can finish the job next week." – s.Oliver Wurzburg forward Devin Oliver