By Eurohoops team/ email@example.com
Shabazz Napier went off in the second half where he scored 21 out of his game-high 26 points (on 5-8 threes) to lead Olimpia Milano to an 82 – 75 win over Fenerbahce Beko in a postponed EuroLeague game for Round 24.
The Italian side registered its seventh win over the last eight games but still needs to pull off a miracle to make the playoffs. Meanwhile, Fener dropped at 17 – 12 and fell behind in the battle for the Top 4.
“I was telling the coach and the team that I just wanted to see the defense they were playing,” Napier said. “In the second half, I decided I was going to be a little more aggressive and I was just fortunate enough to make some shots and my teammates were able to find me in good spots, but it was definitely a team effort today.”
Napier also drained the triple to put Milano up by 66-76 with 1:55 to play. Fenerbahce made a quick 6-0 run and Carsen Edwards responded in the same currency but Billy Baron hit a 3-pointer of his own as his squad regained a three-possession advantage.
Edwards kept Fener in the game with another bucket from downtown. Baron provided an answer again with a 3-point play for the 75 – 82 with 22 seconds remaining, securing Milano’s win.
Baron finished with eight points while Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot contributed a season-high-tying 19 points to Milano’s win. Their team led for the entire game and were even up by 14, 47 – 61, near the end of the third quarter after a balanced first half (35-37).
The triplet of Johnathan Motley (22 points, nine rebounds), Marko Guduric (19 points), and Edwards (16 points) wasn’t enough for Fener which didn’t shoot the ball well (29-77) and had almost 1/3 of its points from second-chance opportunities. (24 points off 17 offensive rebounds). The hosts were without Dyshawn Pierre and Tyler Dorsey.
It was all about Napier
“We couldn’t stop Napier,” Fener coach Dimitris Itoudis admitted. “He had 0 assists, but you could see whenever he was doubled, he was passing the ball and they found secondary creators, whether it was Kyle [Hines] or Tonut or other players. We fought until the end but we shot the ball poorly on twos and threes.”
“I am very very happy,” said Milano coach Ettore Messina. His team was missing, once again, Shavon Shields, Kevin Pangos and Gigi Datome. “We are coming off a loss in the Italian League that we didn’t want to have, but unfortunately we dropped the game. And my team today, my players played with great desire, with great will. It’s very difficult to win here against a very talented team, very physical. I think we had the lead almost 40 minutes, which is very difficult. So congratulations to my players for a fantastic game.”