ALBA stuns host Milan 96-102
ALBA Berlin invaded the fashion capital and took away a 96-102 road win over AX Armani Exchange Milan to tighten the playoffs race a little more on Tuesday. ALBA raised its record to 8-15, rising out of last place, while Milan fell to 11-12 as it tries to cling to the playoffs positions. In a game with 11 lead changes and nine ties through three quarters, the definitive surge was ALBA's 0-6 run to open the fourth, which quickly developed into a 2-13 knockout blow from which Milan could not recover. Marcus Eriksson led five ALBA double-figure scorers with 22 points. Johannes Thiemann came off the bench for 13, Luke Sikma and Peyton Siva had 12 each, while Landry Nnoko added 11. Milan got 20 points from Vladimir Micov, 15 from Luis Scola, 13 from Sergio Rodriguez, 11 from Nemanja Nedovic and 10 from Drew Crawford.
Triples by Micov and Michael Roll sent Milan ahead 13-7 out of the gate. Siva's jumper, free throws off a steal, and transition triple suddenly put ALBA in front 13-14, but Scola answered with his second shot from deep. Makai Mason's layup and Thiemann's put-back flipped the lead at 17-20. Nedovic and Mason traded triples as ALBA's advantage reached 20-25. Micov finished the quarter as he started it, from deep, to get Milan within 25-27. Nedovic fed Keifer Sykes and Micov for triples early in the second quarter as Milan went up 31-27. Niels Giffey and Sikma, twice, joined the fun from deep and combined on a steal-and fastbreak at 33-38. Eriksson made it a 0-10 ALBA run that Sykes stopped with a jumper. Roll and Nedovic reeled Milan back, then Martin Hermansson and Nedovic traded close-in baskets as the half ended 45-45. To start the third quarter, Eriksson's pair of triples were offset by Rodriguez scoring and assisting as the score stayed tied at 58-58. Crawford, Arturas Gudaitis and Kaleb Tarczewski edged Milan in front, 67-62, but soon Siva and Thiemann sparked a 2-11 ALBA run that put the visitors up 69-73. Crawford kept Milan close, but with great free throw accuracy, ALBA held a 73-75 lead after 30 minutes. After Nnoko and Gudaitis slammed to start the fourth quarter, ALBA grew its lead to 75-82 on a three-point play by Tyler Cavanaugh. When Eriksson came out of a timeout and converted a four-point play, ALBA was suddenly up 75-88 with 7:30 remaining. Rodriguez sparked Milan with his passing and a steal-and-fastbreak at 82-90. He buried a triple and 4 free throws next, making it 89-93. Micov followed from the line, but Sikma scored backdoor for ALBA at 91-95 with 90 seconds left. And when Siva split a trap and fed Hermannsson for a triple inside the final minute, ALBA was up 91-98. Micov scoring 5 points after that could not prevent ALBA from reaching 100 and taking the victory back to Berlin.
Marcus Eriksson likes playing Milan. His career highs of 28 points and 25 PIR came against the Italians while he was playing for Gran Canaria last season. This time, he matched his season high with 22 points and had a 19 PIR while hitting 4 of 5 two-pointers and 4 of 9 threes.
After 11 lead changes and nine ties until late in the third quarter, it was anybody's game. ALBA started the fourth quarter with a 2-13 run that featured a three-point play by Tyler Cavanaugh followed by Eriksson's final triple, which came with a free throw to make it 75-88. Milan never recovered.
Did you notice?
Remarkably, Milan point guard Sergio Rodriguez had gone through the nine previous games without visiting the free throw line before he returned there midway through the third quarter. He eventually made 6 of 6 foul shots to raise his accuracy rate to 95.6%, third-best in the EuroLeague.
ALBA pulled off the upset without the services of its leading scorer, Rokas Giedraitis, who stayed back in Berlin due to the birth of his first child.
In 48 hours, ALBA returns to Berlin to take on Real Madrid in Round 24. On the same night, Milan hits the road to play FC Barcelona.
Tuesday, February 4, 2020