Milan uses fourth quarter surge to overcome ALBA
AX Armani Exchange Milan used a dominant final period to outlast ALBA Berlin 84-76 at Mediolanum Forum on Tuesday. A closely fought first half saw several lead changes as neither team could take control, and it was 38-40 at the break. It continued to be a tight tussle during the third quarter, which finished 60-59. But a strong start to the final period allowed Milan to move clear, and there was no way back for ALBA after that. Gigi Datome led the scoring with 15 points, followed by Kyle Hines with 12. Sergio Rodriguez conducted the offense with 9 points and 9 assists, while Nicolo Melli and Giampaolo Ricci scored 10 apiece. Sergio Rodriguez points, assists, rebounds. Maodo Lo paced ALBA with 13 points and Yovel Zoosman netted 10. Milan improves to 12-6, while ALBA drops to 6-12.
Datome knocked down long two-pointers with his team’s first two possessions and Melli added a floater for a 6-2 lead. Luke Sikma, Datome and Tamir Blatt all hit three-pointers, and it was 11-8 midway through the first. Alley-oops from Sikma and Christ Koumadje got ALBA closer and Lo tied it, 15-15. Fastbreak scores from Lo and Louis Olinde sent the visitors ahead despite Jerian Grant’s threeball, and an alley-oop from Koumadje helped make it 22-24 at the end of the first. Troy Daniels sent Milan back ahead with a corner three, and Rodriguez added another to make it 28-24. Lo got ALBA moving again, and Blatt hit another triple as the visitors moved back ahead. A three-point play from Rodriguez and three-pointer from Datome forced another lead change, 34-32. After a slow passage of play Sikma scored in transition to tie it, 38-38, and free throws from Lo made it 38-40 at halftime.
Ben Lammers hit a long two and Blatt made another three to keep ALBA ahead early in the second half, despite a pair of floaters from Melli. Lammers and Zoosman stretched the lead to 46-50, before a low scoring few minutes was followed by a flurry of scoring as three-pointers from Rodriguez and Ricci gave Milan a 56-54 lead. Jaleen Smith hit a triple for another lead change, but Ricci’s putback made it 60-59 after three quarters. Ricci opened the final period with a three-pointer, and 4 points from Tarczewski gave the hosts breathing room, 67-61. Mid-range twos from Malcolm Delaney and Datome gave Milan the biggest lead of the night, 71-63, before Sikma’s driving layup revived ALBA. But Devon Hall’s layup in penetration and another Datome triple established a double-digit lead, 76-65, and three scores from Hines – including a highlight reel dunk – left no doubt about the outcome despite 5 late points from Zoosman.
Rodriguez enjoys milestone evening
Milan playmaker Sergio Rodriguez reached the milestone of exactly 1,500 career assists with a feed to Kyle Hines inside the final minute of Tuesday night’s win over ALBA. The Spanish master passer delivered 9 assists on the night, his joint-highest tally of the season. Rodriguez – who was named EuroLeague MVP in 2014 and won the title with Real Madrid in 2015 and CSKA Moscow in 2019 – is comfortable in third place in the competition’s all-time assists chart, trailing only Nick Calathes of FC Barcelona (1,583 assists) and all-time leader Vassilis Spanoulis (1,607).
Back and forth battle…for three quarters
Tuesday’s meeting between Milan and ALBA was exceptionally close for the first three quarters, with no more than 6 points between the teams. Although the hosts led for the first eight minutes and briefly moved 6 points clear in the second quarter, ALBA bounced back to lead at half-time. The third quarter featured six lead changes and four ties, and it seemed that a close finish was on the cards. But then Milan started the fourth quarter with an 11-4 surge to take control, and ALBA couldn’t rediscover its offensive rhythm until it was too late.
Koumadje and Daniels return from injury
ALBA was delighted to get Christ Koumadje back in action after a six-week layoff through injury, and the big man from Chad made a strong early impression by coming off the bench midway through the first quarter to score four points in four minutes. Koumadje finished the game with 6 points and 2 rebounds in 11:33 on the floor. Similarly, Milan welcomed back Troy Daniels after a month out. He quickly made a three-pointer but they were his only points as he spent just 3:29 in the game on his return from injury.
Tuesday, January 18, 2022