There is one distinctive feature about Dolomiti Energia Trento’s now two-game winning streak and the club’s strong start to the season: defense. Trento has stepped up its efforts on the defensive end just in time to keep alive its hopes of reaching the 7DAYS EuroCup Quarterfinals.
Trento shut down Partizan NIS Belgrade 69-54 to stay alive in the race for the top eight - thanks to its tough defense. Trento allowed just 17 points combined in the second and third quarters and held Partizan to 38.9% shooting on two-pointers and 29.2% on three-pointers.
“We did a pretty good job playing the same basketball that we played earlier in the year,” said Trento’s floor general Gary Browne, who collected 3 steals against Partizan.
Trento started the season on a six-game winning streak. Especially impressive was the stretch from Round 2 to 4 in which the team conceded just 55.7 points per game - 51 points to Promitheas Patras and Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana and 65 points against Nanterre 92. Trento then dropped its final four games of the regular season and put its back against the wall with a 1-2 start to the Top 16, including scoring just 43 points in a loss at Partizan and a 92-86 defeat at Boulogne Metropolitans 92.
The latter game was the final one with Nicola Brienza on the sidelines as the head coach and he was replaced by his assistant Emanuele Molin. The 61-year-old Molin, who is a three-time EuroLeague champion as Ettore Messina’s assistant at Virtus Bologna and CSKA Moscow, immediately changed the team’s focus back to defense.
Trento beat Metropolitans 67-57 in Round 4 of the Top 16 by forcing 25 turnovers. And after having more time to work with the team due to the three-week team break, Molin’s cues worked even better against Partizan.