By Eurohoops team/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Keifer Sykes scored 15 out of his EuroLeague career-high 17 points in the last 12 minutes of the game and made some key interventions on defense as Olimpia Milano defeated Panathinaikos 96 – 87 to improve its regular-season record to 10-8.
Jimmer Fredette registered a EuroLeague career-high of his own by dropping 28 points (6/9 2-pointers, 5/8 3-pointers), including back-to-back triples that pushed Panathinaikos to make it a 7-point game, 91 – 84 with 1:10 remaining, after coming back from down 17, 78 – 61 near the beginning of the fourth period.
It was Sergio Rodriguez that hit a crucial basket for Milano in the transition to make his own points 22 and the score 94 – 84 with 38 seconds to play. On the other end, Ioannis Papapetrou and Dinos Mitoglou missed consecutive chances from beyond the arc that doomed Panathinaikos to their eighth defeat this season.
“Things weren’t working for us in the last weeks but we knew this game is crucial for us. For the standings and for ourselves. We came ready and we showed it,” Rodriguez said to EuroLeague TV after the game.
Sykes, who played his second EuroLeague game and made his debut in the Forum, had previously been the main figure in Milano taking that 17-point lead. He returned to the game in the mid of the third period with the score 58 – 53 and delivered strong individual defenses with consecutive blocks on Thomas and Fredette, plus buckets on the other end as the “Red Shoes” closed the quarter up 73 – 57.
Ricardo Moraschini contributed 12 points and six boards to Milano’s win. DeShaun Thomas added 15 points and Mitoglou 10 for Panathinaikos.
A key win for Milan
For Milan coach Ettore Messina, this was a more than crucial win that can really help in future tie-breaks: “We are going up and down between the EuroLeague and the Italian League. We had a tough stretch with a lot of games on the road and we had a little bit too many injuries, but injuries happen to everybody. This is important because we now have both victories against Panathinaikos, so in case of a tie, we might get the advantage of that. But more important is the way we played. We did not depend on our shooting percentages, we played aggressively on both ends of the floor. We played through mistakes, we found great games by Riccardo Moraschini and Keifer Sykes. You feel good, now we hope to keep building on this. EuroLeague is extremely challenging. We just enjoy this win and next week we have two difficult games on the road we hope we will be up to the level of the challenge.”
Photo: EuroLeague Basketball