By Eurohoops Team/ firstname.lastname@example.org
New signings, Kevin Pangos, relationship with Christos Stavropoulos, addition of Milan Tomic, and many more topics were touched upon by Olimpia Milano‘s head coach, Ettore Messina, in his customary media availability at the beginning of the season.
Shabazz Napier had a great run in Olimpia Milano‘s jersey but decided to change teams during the summer and signed for Crvena Zvezda. On the other hand, Italian champions made a big move by signing Nikola Mirotic.
“At some point, Napier preferred to have a different type of contract and signed for Crvena Zvezda. We owe a lot to Mr. Armani and Mr. Dell’Orco not just for the financial effort but for the love of the team that ultimately gave us the chance to bring Nikola Mirotic to Milan. It’s as simple as that. I hope that our seriousness, the credibility we built with the way we tried to do things over the last few years, on top of having some big players here, played a role here. For us, it is a matter of pride and also means more responsibility. We feel a lot of responsibility, but with Mirotic here, there is just more motivation to be better. We’ll try to succeed,” Messina said.
The Mirotic saga lasted over a month, and many clubs were interested in his services, but he landed in Milano, and Messina has no doubt that he will be a big reinforcement for his squad.
“Over the years, we stayed in touch. He had a lot of nice gestures toward me and my family, things you are not forgetting. He is emphatic, who established a great connection with everybody here since day one, he is married, has two kids, a very religious man. One thing is Mirotic the player, the NBA star, the Barcelona guy; another is the man. He has a lot of killer instinct on the court, and he is very easy off the court, he is somebody you go out to eat a pizza with. He is everything but a spoiled superstar.”
The experienced Italian coach also talked about the addition of Alex Poythress and how Mirotic will help replace Luigi Datome.
“Pangos and Baron gave me excellent recommendations on Alex as a person; this is crucial for us. We are very lucky to be so deep with our big men. On top of it, Mirotic will give us some minutes at the small forward spot to make up for Datome’s departure. They are not similar players, of course, but both of them have size and the ability to shoot from the perimeter and score posting up. After losing a great player like Datome, we could not have a better solution to fill those shoes.”
Maodo Lo reinforced Olimpia’s backcourt.
“We wanted him last summer too, but he didn’t feel like leaving Berlin. This summer, everything was different. He is very athletic, he led a EuroLeague team for some seasons, he is a scorer and on broken plays, he can create a lot of things one on one. He complements Pangos because they are very different athletically, but they can also play together. And he can play alongside Flaccadori too.”
Kevin Pangos will stay with the club after a season marked with injuries. Messina also explained why he didn’t stay with Canada this summer for the World Cup.
“He had a very good working summer; he came here in a much better situation than he was one year ago when he was coming off the Cleveland experience and didn’t play much there. Somehow, he agreed with the Canadian national team to prevent him from going to the World Cup so he could come immediately. He looks very aware of our expectations, our wishes, and of how he could be the Kevin Pangos we knew from St. Petersburg and Barcelona, the player for some reasons he couldn’t be last season. He looks good in practice, and I think that Mirotic and Poythress, who he knew, are helping him a lot.”
Messina also had a witty remark about his relationship with GM Christos Stavropoulos.
“We are like husband and wife; sometimes we have arguments, but at the end of the day, we both know we couldn’t have a better wife or a better husband.”
Serbian coach Milan Tomic joined his staff this summer after Dan Shamir left for Bnei Herzliya.
“He’s been a great player; he has worked under top coaches like Bartzokas and Ivkovic. I’m very fortunate that he came here to help, even with Peppe Poeta. We lost Shamir because he wanted to coach and spend more time with his family. We replaced him in the best way. And I’m happy that Tom Bialaszewski will coach in Varese. He will be fine.”