Shabazz Napier keeps Milan on the winning track

2023-03-09T22:35:05+00:00 2023-03-09T23:11:48+00:00.

Giannis Askounis

09/Mar/23 22:35

A defensive throwdown behind masterminds Ettore Messina and Zeljko Obradovic favors hosting EA7 Emporio Armani Milan

By Eurohoops Team/

An 11-0 sprint to start the fourth quarter coming off a brilliant buzzer-beater tucked in by Shabazz Napier fired up EA7 Emporio Armani Milan resulting in the 76-62 victory versus Partizan Mozzart Bet Thursday.

With five wins in a row and eight wins in nine games across all competitions since welcoming Napier, Ettore Messina’s side erupted out of a defensive battle for the first double-digit cushion following eight lead changes in the first three quarters of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season Round 28 game. The two-time NCAA champion with Connecticut finished with ten points and 3/11 field goals to go with four assists, two steals, and one rebound over 26 minutes.

Brandon Davies tallied ten of his 14 points in the last ten minutes, including six fueling the fast start to the fourth period. “We played great as a team. Everyone shared the ball and everyone was looking for each other,” he reacted to the sixth win in a row.

Recently recovering from a long spell on the injury list, Kevin Pangos went for ten points, seven assists, and five rebounds. “I missed basketball for three or four months,” he confessed following the first EuroLeague action since Round 10 of the Regular Season, “It is very difficult. I want to be out there with the guys. I just missed that competitiveness. Just being out there and competing again. There is nothing like it.”

Nicolo Melli paired his nine points with seven rebounds to become the player with the most rebounds for Milan in EuroLeague. Sharing the team-high with Davies, Billy Baron chipped in 14 more points.

“Brandon Davies gave us a presence inside. We were disciplined in trying to find Billy Baron. And the two point guards controlled the tempo of the game. That was key for us,’ Messina noted the offense’s high points, “But for us, we can’t imagine winning a EuroLeague game without playing good defense.”

Deshaun Thomas did not play and Naz Mitrou-Long was scratched along with Tommaso Baldasso and Davide Alviti. On the injury list, Paul Biligha (right knee), Devon Hall (right knee), and Luigi Datome (left ankle) were unavailable as well.

Retaining slim chances to salvage a Playoffs berth, the Milan outfit jumped to 12-15 by logging a fifth consecutive win at home and seventh in 15 affairs in Mediolanum Forum this season.

Landing on the wrong end of the defensive battle, Zeljko Obradovic saw his side fall to 15-13 on his 63rd birthday. The fan following enjoyed a win against Virtus Segafredo Bologna at the top of the two-game week but fell short of a perfect trip in Italy further boosting the bid to extend past the Regular Season.

Despite not scoring in the fourth quarter, Kevin Punter ended up with a game-high 15 points against his former team. Ranked second in both rebounds and PIR, Mathias Lessort added to a super campaign with 11 pounds and six rebounds for a team-high PIR of 17.

“We didn’t play well offensively. First of all, because we had to play very aggressively and we played very slow,” mentioned Obradovic, “So, they deserved to win the game.”

Time for a Belgrade derby

Coming up next for Partizan is rival Crvena Zvezda Meridianbet, after losing three of the first four Belgrade eternal derbies of the 2022-23 season. The approaching AdmiralBet ABA League contest and the chance to jump to 19-2 in the regional league is scheduled for Monday. From there to Istanbul and back-to-back EuroLeague champion Anadolu Efes Thursday.

The Little Red Shoes, currently sharing the lead in Italy’s LBA Serie A with Virtus Bologna, can go up to 17-4 with a potential win at Happy Casa Brindisi Sunday. On a trip to Spain’s capital, they will face Real Madrid in EuroLeague’s Round 29 Thursday.

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