EA7 Emporio Armani Milan had a strong finish to the regular season, first taking Fenerbahce Ulker and FC Barcelona down to the wire, before pulling out three consecutive victories to charge into the Top 16. Coach Luca Banchi’s team is the best in the leagu in taking care of the ball, with a competition low 10 turnovers per game, and it gets contributions from all across the board. Milan is one of only four teams with seven players averaging more than 7.2 points per game and seven players pulling down at least 2.7 rebounds per night.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR: It seems like a season can’t go by without EA7 Milan and Anadolu Efes Istanbul getting pitted against each other. Since 2005-06, this will be the eighth of 10 seasons in which the two teams will play each other in the Euroleague. Efes holds 12-4 edge, and Milan has never won in Istanbul. The closest it got was in last season’s Top 16 clash, but Zoran Planinic hit the famous Bosphorus buzzer-beater for a 61-60 Efes win. Milan pays another visit to the same place in Round 13 in what could easily be a do-or-die game for both teams that late in the competition.
GOING FORWARD: The three-game winning streak got Milan in a good rhythm, and certainly serves as a building block for what is to follow. Milan boasts depth at every position; the team had 10 different starters in as many games and eight players averaging more than 16 minutes per game. But it is not only a balance of minutes that works in Milan’s favor. When games are on the line, Milan has a scary number of go-to options with guards Daniel Hackett, Alessandro Gentile, Joe Ragland, MarShon Brooks, forwards Linas Kleiza and David Moss and big man Samardo Samuels in the paint. It gives the Milanese a level of comfort and confidence on their mission to repeat last season’s success when team reached the playoffs.