By Eurohoops team/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Dzanan Musa scored a game-high 27 points and grabbed five rebounds as Real Madrid defeated Olimpia Milano 91 – 87 at home to stay in pursuit of the first place in the standings. Milano saw its streak of six consecutive wins ending in Spain and its already slim playoff chances all but eliminated.
After a very close fight for the larger part of the game, Real managed to take a 83 – 76 lead with 3:25 to play. Milano responded with a 1-8 run to tie the game at 84 thanks to a triple by Shabazz Napier and while less than a minute was left on the clock.
Sergio Rodriguez delivered a pretty pass to Edy Tavares for the go-ahead bucket and Musa hit free throws to put Real up 88 – 84. Johannes Voigtmann kept Milano in the game with a 3-pointer but then stepped on the sideline after 2-2 from the line by Gabriel Deck. A free throw by Guerschon Yabusele secured the hosts’ win.
“I don’t think about individual stats, as long as we get the win”, Musa said after the game. “That’s the most important thing right now, and we are happy that we closed this game in a good way, that we got a win at home. It was important to stay calm, and getting trusted by my teammates [is a cool feeling]. And it is important to continue to do so in the practices, in the games. I am thankful for my teammates and my coach, first of all.”
Napier produced 17 points and eight assists to lead the Milano offense. Nicolo Melli had 16 points plus seven rebounds while Stefano Tonut and Billy Baron scored 14 apiece. Their team was hurt by Real’s 13 offensive rebounds which were translated into 22 points.
Tavares contributed 17 points and eight rebounds to Real’s win. Yabusele and Mario Hezonja dropped 12 points each.
“We need to keep working”
“We had ups and downs, like in every game, but in the end, we led and we were able to finish the game”, admitted Real Madrid coach Chus Mateo who wanted his team to bounce back after losing in Istanbul to Efes two days ago: “It was important for us, they had six wins in a row, and for us, this was important after our last defeat”.
The point for Real Madrid is that Mateo believes that his team still needs to work, despite being second in the standings: “It was a tough game all the way to the last minute. I believe we were aggressive defensively. We were able to string together very good defensive minutes, and we closed out the rebounds. We were able to run and that is important because we like doing that. Also, the win is important because it keeps us close to the top of the standings, and our goal of reaching the playoffs is [getting] closer and closer. We have to keep thinking that we need to keep working.”
For EA7 Emporio Armani Milan head coach Ettore Messina who tries to save a lost season, the mood was different: “It was a close loss. To win here against Real Madrid, you need to play a great game, and we just played a very good game. Small details decided it, a couple of possessions where we missed open shots, and we gave up a dunk by [Walter] Tavares that I think decided the game. Overall, we played a very good game again. We just need to keep going and try to be better in the next one.”