Our embedded Finnish consultant H.T. Hippo left the sauna long enough to send in a Petteri Koponen update. The news is better this time. (Unrelated: Does that picture of Claver up there look like a mixture of Jay Mohr, Eric Stoltz in Mask, and me? Am I the only one that is thinking this? If not, that could mean that I slightly resemble Jay Mohr. Terrifying.) Check out pictures of Petteri's latest action here and here. That second picture suggests Koponen is rocking a Finnish version of the Mullet. This will require further investigation.
What exactly is this novelty called "Italian Supercup?"
Supercup is an annual Italian preseason game played a week before the actual Serie A season tips off. In Supercup, last season's Italian Cup finalists (in this case: Virtus Bologna and Montepaschi Siena) face off just to show Italian basketball fans the contemporary situation of two elite teams from last season.
Montepaschi Siena has only gotten stronger. They managed to get into Euroleague Final Four last season, but winning it all is their only goal for upcoming season. All the best players from last season's team—Roman Sato, Shaun Stonerook, Ksistof Lavrinovic and company—have stayed put and new additions David Hawkins and Nikolas Zisis have already showed what they're capable of.
Meanwhile, Virtus has gone through massive roster overhaul after last season's playoff disappointment. Out of last season's key players, only Petteri Koponen, Dusan Vukcevic and Brett Blizzard have stayed in Bologna while Sharrod Ford and Alex Righetti are still going through everlasting contract negotiations. New names in Virtus roster include Americans Scoonie Penn and LeRoy Hurd, Spanish big man Diego Fajardo and Georgian forward Viktor Sanikidze. When these canvas are noticed, nobody might be surprised to hear that Montepaschi Siena absolutely destroyed Virtus in the Supercup game, 87-65 (41-33).
Virtus grabbed the lead with Koponen and Vukcevic showing the way in 1st quarter, but they couldn't hold the lead any longer. Siena began to harass Virtus' guards with their prototype pit bull defense and duo of Terrell McIntyre and Romain Sato began to pull their team away. After grabbing a comfortable ten point lead right after halftime Siena kept extending the lead and left the court with Supercup trophy in their hands.
Pretty much the only bright spots for Virtus Bologna where Fajardo and Koponen. Spanish big man used his old-school pivot moves to net 17 points, while Koponen managed to keep Virtus' offense somehow flowing despite being harassed by McIntyre, Sato and Hawkins. Koponen orchestrated the game for 38 minutes and finished with 13 points, three rebounds, one assist, three steals, and four turnovers. Italian basketball website www.basketnet.it stated that Koponen was a totally different person than a year ago, showing a lot more confidence and skill.
New acquisition Scoonie Penn suffered from jet lag and played only 17 minutes, scoring seven points. Montepaschi's Romain Sato was given the Supercup MVP trophy after a 19 point, four rebound, four steal evening.
Serie A season tips off in a week. Virtus squares off against Sigma Coatings Montegranaro in the first game of the season. Pretty much the only Montegranaro player familiar to the hoopheads in the States is point guard Robert Hite, a former Uni Miami starter and Miami Heat substitute.