Chacho, Delaney lead Milano past Barcelona

2022-01-11T23:03:20+00:00 2022-01-12T18:02:09+00:00.

Antonis Stroggylakis

11/Jan/22 23:03

Olimpia Milano swept Barcelona in the 2021-22 EuroLeague regular season.

By Eurohoops team/

Sergio Rodriguez scored 18 points, Malcolm Delaney added 15 points and they both hit crucial buckets down the stretch as Olimpia Milano defeated Barcelona 75 – 73 on the road. Milano handed the Blaugrana their first home loss this season in EuroLeague.

Delaney dropped three out of his 4-5 triples in the last three minutes against his former team and made one for the 70 – 74 with 12 seconds to play. Nikola Mirotic answered quickly with the same currency and then Nicolo Melli drained a free throw to give Milano a two-point lead.

Barca had four seconds to run the floor and make a shot. A 3-point attempt by Nicolas Laprovittola from afar went off target.

Despite the loss, Barca remains first in the standings with 15-4. Milano improved to 11-6 and is currently fifth.

“It was tough,” Delaney said. “We never won here before. We came in with the mentality that we can win. But like coach said, we’ve been having a lot of players recover from COVID, some injuries, so we just wanted to keep it close and then in the fourth quarter try to make a push. These are the games we lost last year. I think we were in the same situation here last year and then they went on a, 20, 21-0 run. So to get to our ultimate goal, these are the wins we’ve got to get on the road.”

Mirotic finished with 18 points while Kyle Kuric scored 22 points for Barca that led 51 – 41 late in the third period after trailing 28 – 34 at halftime. Rodriguez had 15 of his points at the break, being the only player out of both teams to score in double figures in the first half.

Milano entered the fourth period down 54 – 47 and then had a 2 – 9 partial score to tie the game at 56 with six minutes to play and the match remained a close one until the final moments.

Devon Hall put Barca up 65 – 70 with 1:12 remaining and then made a free throw for the 67 – 71. Kuric fired a 3-pointer but on the other end Delaney had one of his own in store to preserve Milano’s advantage.

“Congratulation to Ettore and Milano,” Barca coach Sarunas Jasikevicius said. “Like all games between Final teams are decided by details. I thought our effort was great. I thought our attitude was great, I thought probably everything except for one detail we did very good. I have nothing to say about my players. I thought the attitude was excellent. And that’s it. Like I said, we just could not understand that the Milan players are very strong going to the right and very strong in shooting. In this case, they cannot shoot and they cannot go to the right. This is the only thing as far as details go that I have a problem with. But the attitude and sacrifice of the players was at the highest level.”

A fine way to begin anew

This win was exactly what Milano needed for many reasons. Not only were they coming from five defeats in its last seven EuroLeageu games but the squad was also recovering from a coronavirus outbreak.

“I think it’s a good boost of confidence for all of us,” Milano coach Ettore Messina said. “We have to stay humble. We gotta keep working. It’s a long run. A lot of games left. We have to, I think, make up four games that have been canceled. So it’s going to be very long. But in the long run, we will recover our injured players, Datome, Shields and Mitouglu and I think we will have the depth and if we keep being humble and defend, I think we can have a good season.”

“Horrible third quarter. The pressure was overwhelming,” Messina had said in the post-game flash interview. “We could not do anything offensively for a long stretch. But I think we came back with a great fourth quarter. And, of course, Malcolm [Delaney] made some terrific plays not only in cruck time, but also to help us come back in the game. But the whole team, defense I remember one moment where we had four or five straight possessions of very good defense, we rebounded, Chacho in the first half was great in giving us the lead. I think we played a very important game against, of course, probably the best opponent at this moment in the EuroLeague and this gives us confidence, especially coming out of a very hard time with the COVID, which hit almost all of our players.

Photo: EuroLeague Basketball