By Eurohoops team/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Although there were some ups and downs, AX Armani Exchange Milan held the lead from start to finish and grabbed an 85-81 home win over Zalgiris Kaunas in Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Round 2. Milan now holds a 1-1 record while Zalgiris lost both games (0-2).
Sergio Rodriguez logged 17 points and six assists while Jeff Brooks added 14 in addition to Vladimir Micov’s 13 and Luis Scola’s 11 points. As Rodriguez said: “It is a big win for us. We were really looking forward to this game, especially being the first one at home. We know how difficult it is to win in the EuroLeague and want to make our home very strong and get a good feeling every time we come. We are working really hard. We are a new team and have to get together, but we are working hard every day to keep building on the things that we are doing.”
For Zalgiris, Thomas Walkup nailed 19 points on 7-9 shooting followed by Marius Grigonis’ 13 and Lukas Lekavicius’ 11 points.
Zalgiris cut the gap to three points (73-70) midway through the final period but Micov, Brooks and Michael Roll helped Milan stay in the lead and grab the win.
Milan dominated the first quarter (23-7) and thanks to great three-point shooting (6-10) stayed ahead at halftime (43-36).
In contrast to combined 21 three-point attempts in the first half, the squad attempted only five more in the second half as the game plan of both squads moved inside the arc and the paint. Still, paced by Rodriguez, Milan managed to stay ahead in the third quarter (64-59) and hold off Zalgiris’ comeback effort in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
Ettore Messina: It’s always important to start at home with a win
Milan coach Messina logged his first win in EuroLeague since returning to the competitions and it was a hard one: “It is always important to start at home with a win. It was a very hard-played game by both teams, with good things by both teams and mistakes by both teams. I think that today, after a very good start, we had our moments when we struggled defensively. We had some problems with fouls that didn’t help our rotation, and Zalgiris came back, even when we had almost a good lead for a great part of the game. Congratulations to my players and to Zalgiris for competing for 40 minutes.”