Gran Canaria shocks Milan on the road
In the club’s first game with a new head of bench, Herbalife Gran Canaria claimed a resounding road win, holding off AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan 86-94 on Thursday night. It was the second consecutive road win for Gran Canaria and first under Coach Victor Garcia to improve to 4-7 on the season, while Milan dropped its third straight decision and fell to 6-5. Gran Canaria took the lead for good in the second quarter and then withstood Milan’s fourth-quarter charge. Marcus Eriksson scored a career-high 17 points in less than 16 minutes and Kim Tillie added 12 points and 6 rebounds in the winning effort. For Milan, Mike James netted 26 points, while Arturas Gudaitis amassed 16 points plus 17 rebounds, including 10 on the offensive glass.
James scored 6 points and dished 3 assists, one of them for a triple from Vladimir Micov, as Milan jumper to a 16-8 lead. However, Gran Canaria got a boost off its bench. Tillie, Eriksson and Oriol Pauli halved the deficit and Eriksson’s triple tied it at 20-20. Mindaugas Kuzminskas's last-second basket gave Milan the lead after 10 minutes, but put-backs by Ondrej Balvin and Albert Oliver put the visitors ahead 24-26. A fastbreak layup and a triple from Christopher Evans made it 27-33. Dairis Bertans knocked down a triple and a jumper for the hosts, but Evans had another triple and Anzejs Pasecniks a three-point play before a three-pointer from Eriksson made it 40-48 at halftime. James, Brooks and Bertans all hit from behind the arc to get within 51-55 in the third, but Eriksson hit from way downtown before Eulis Baez had a three-point play. Tillie banked in a runner and nailed a corner triple and Oliver had a second-chance three that helped open a 56-70 margin with 60 seconds to go in the third quarter. Gudaitis and James, with a triple at the buzzer, cut it to 63-71 at the end of third and Andrea Cinciarini had a three-point play to open the fourth. Cinciarini’s layup high off the glass ignited the home crowd. He then hit a triple and assisted on threes from James and Kuzminskas as Milan got within 80-82 with 4:40 to go. But Radicevic scored on consecutive trips down the floor before Pauli and Eriksson padded the lead from the free throw line, 84-91 with 2:20 left, and Gran Canaria never let Milan threaten the rest of the way.
It was the first game Gran Canaria played under new head coach Victor Garcia, and they passed the test with flying colors. After a rough opening five minutes, Gran Canaria took control and, despite Milan’s fourth-quarter charge, found the way to close out the game without much drama.
Balance and sharing
Gran Canaria had 11 players enter the game and they all played between 23 and 14 minutes. Eriksson and Tillie led the scoring, with Ondrej Balvin and Nikola Radicevic scoring 10 apiece. The team recorded a club-best 23 assists; Albert Oliver dished 6, while Oriol Pauli, D.J. Strawberry and Radicevic had 4 apiece.
Milan’s Arturas Gudaitis set club records and personal career-highs by pulling down 17 rebounds, including 10 on the offensive glass. No player had pulled down more than 17 rebounds in the EuroLeague in almost two years and his 10 offensive boards are one shy of the EuroLeague record of 11, shared by Travis Watson, Gregor Fucka and QuadreMichael Lollis.
If Milan would have managed to come back and win the game, Andrea Cinciarini would be the hero. He did not enter the game until there were four minutes to go in the third quarter and Milan down by double digits. But his energy changed the team and in the fourth quarter, he had 10 points, 2 assists and 1 steal that got Milan within 80-82. That’s when he briefly exited the game to get rest, and that is also when Gran Canaria regained the momentum and Milan could not come close enough again.
Gran Canaria returns home in Round 12 to face Buducnost VOLI Podgorica, while Milan will try to snap its three-game losing streak in a tough road test at Fenerbahce Istanbul.
Thursday, December 6, 2018