2021-22Regular SeasonRound 1
September 30, 2021 CET: 20:30
Local time: 20:30 MEDIOLANUM FORUM

Milan rides defense to overcome CSKA

AX Armani Exchange Milan started the 2021-22 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season strong at home with a determined 84-74 victory over CSKA Moscow. The visitors raced into a double-digit lead, 19-29, in the first quarter, but Milan battled back with a 15-2 run in the second and kept on improving defensively to claim what became a relatively comfortable victory. Shavon Shields led the way with 17 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists, Sergio Rodriguez scored 17 and Nicolo Melli impressed on his re-debut with 15 points and 6 rebounds. Kyle Hines (13) and new signing Devon Hall (11) also scored in double-digits for the winning team. Iffe Lundberg led CSKA’s resistance with 13 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists, supported by Will Clyburn with 12 points and Nikita Kurbanov with 10.

New CSKA signing Alexey Shved scored a trademark triple with his team’s first possession. After a slow start, Gigi Datome and Melli struck from deep to give Milan its first lead, 8-7. Kurbanov answered with 5 straight points and Shved added a mid-range jumper in a 2-11 run that stretched the lead to 10-18. Kurbanov and Rodriguez exchanged triples, before Daniel Hackett’s turnaround jumper and Clyburn’s triple CSKA kept comfortable, 21-29 at the end of the first quarter. Hall and Hines were on target from two-point range, Jerian Grant added a triple and Rodriguez scored in transition as Milan battled back early in the second, forcing a timeout at 30-32. Hall tied it up from close range, and Melli sent the hosts ahead for the second time, 36-34, before adding free throws to complete a 15-2 run. Toko Shengelia and Shved got CSKA back on track before Hall and Clyburn both netted from downtown and Shved scored from close-range to give his team a 44-45 halftime lead.

Dunks from Melli, Hines and Kurbanov kept it close early in the second half before Shields brought Milan fans to their feet with a big putback slam and immediately added a triple for a 55-53 edge. Hines added a transition slam and an unsportsmanlike foul against Johannes Voigtmann helped Milan stay ahead. Another score from Shields helped make it 62-59 as the defenses dominated the latter stages of the third quarter. Shields stayed hot with the opening score of the final quarter, before Rodriguez and Giampaolo Ricci sliced to the hoop to give Milan its biggest lead yet, 68-59. Lundberg finally got CSKA moving again, but free throws and a Rodriguez fastbreak score made it a double-digit game, 74-63, midway through the final quarter. With defenses still on top, Hackett’s three-pointer gave CSKA hope, but Rodriguez immediately answered with his own deep strike to seal the deal and then added another triple with the final shot of the game for a double-digit margin.

Milutinov hurt again for CSKA

After missing the last four months of last season through injury, Nikola Milutinov started the new campaign in the worst possible way. The CSKA big man suffered an apparent knee injury just 2 minutes into the game, battling for a loose ball underneath the basket, and did not return.

Defensive improvement sparks home success

Milan’s defensive improvement was key to the outcome. CSKA scored 29 first-quarter points, but only managed 1 point more than that – 30 – in the next two quarters. The Muscovites then didn’t score any points for nearly 6 minutes to bridge the third and fourth quarters, allowing the hosts to grab a lead that proved decisive.

Celebrations for Chacho and Coach

Milan guard Sergio Rodriguez reached a milestone as he made his 300th EuroLeague appearance. Only eight players have enjoyed more outings in the competition. His coach Ettore Messina was also celebrating, turning 62 years old on the day of this season opener.

Melli wins battle of re-signings

The game featured two players making their second debuts for their new clubs, having returned in the summer after many years away. Milan forward Nicolo Melli comfortably won that personal duel, providing 15 points and 6 rebounds in 27 minutes on the floor, while CSKA’s Alexey Shved managed just 9 points on 4-of-11 shooting.

What's next?

Round 2 will see Milan travel to Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz on Friday, October 8, the same evening that CSKA has another tough road trip to face reigning champ Anadolu Efes Istanbul.

Nicolo Melli - AX Armani Exchange Milan - EB21
Thursday, September 30, 2021
Attendance: 3120
By Quarter1234
AX Armani Exchange Milan21231822
CSKA Moscow29161415
End of Quarter1234
AX Armani Exchange Milan21446284
CSKA Moscow29455974
AX Armani Exchange Milan
  Rebounds Blocks Fouls
# Player Min Pts 2FG 3FG FT O D T As St To Fv Ag Cm Rv PIR
9 MELLI, NICOLO 27:34 15 2/4 1/1 8/11 1 5 6 1 1 1     2 9 24
10 GRANT, JERIAN 16:31 3   1/2     1 1   1 1     1   2
13 RODRIGUEZ, SERGIO 21:36 17 4/6 3/6   1 3 4 2 1 2     2 3 18
15 TARCZEWSKI, KALEB 5:38   0/1       1 1       1   2   -1
17 RICCI, GIAMPAOLO 12:34 3 1/1 0/2 1/2   4 4     1     2 2 3
21 MORASCHINI, RICCARDO 0:22                         1   -1
22 HALL, DEVON 24:35 11 4/7 1/2     1 1   1 1     3   5
23 DELANEY, MALCOLM 18:02   0/2 0/3     1 1 2   2     1   -5
24 MITOGLOU, KONSTANTINOS 12:35 2 1/4       2 2 2   2     1    
31 SHIELDS, SHAVON 27:51 17 6/7 1/4 2/3 1 6 7 5 1       4 2 23
42 HINES, KYLE 21:18 13 5/6   3/4   2 2 3 2       2 3 19
70 DATOME, LUIGI 11:24 3 0/1 1/1   1   1           2   1
Team             2 2               2
Totals 200:00 84 23/39 8/21 14/20 4 28 32 15 7 10 1 0 23 19 90
        59% 38.1% 70%
Min: Minutes played; Pts: Points; 2FG M-A: 2-point Field Goals (Made-Attempted); 3FG M-A: 3-point Field Goals (Made-Attempted); FT M-A: Free Throws (Made-Attempted); Rebounds: O (Offensive), D (Defensive), T (Total); As: Assists; St: Steals; To: Turnovers; Bl: Blocks (Fv: In Favor / Ag: Against); Fouls: Cm (Commited), Rv (Received); PIR: Performance Index Rating
CSKA Moscow
  Rebounds Blocks Fouls
# Player Min Pts 2FG 3FG FT O D T As St To Fv Ag Cm Rv PIR
1 LUNDBERG, IFFE 25:58 13 2/4 1/4 6/6 1 6 7 6 2       4 4 23
3 BOLOMBOY, JOEL 10:21 3 0/2 1/1   1 1 2     1     2 1 1
7 UKHOV, IVAN 3:07     0/1   1 1 2               1
10 HACKETT, DANIEL 17:13 9 3/5 1/2     2 2 1   1     4 1 5
11 ANTONOV, SEMEN 0:09                              
17 VOIGTMANN, JOHANNES 22:30 8 3/3 0/4 2/2 1 6 7 2         1 1 13
21 CLYBURN, WILL 28:07 12 2/5 2/6 2/2 1 2 3     2     1 3 8
23 SHENGELIA, TORNIKE 23:06 7 1/7 0/2 5/6 2 4 6   2 3   1 1 6 7
33 MILUTINOV, NIKOLA 2:04                           1 1
40 GRIGONIS, MARIUS 20:56 3 0/1 0/1 3/4   1 1 1   2     2 5 3
41 KURBANOV, NIKITA 22:50 10 2/3 2/3   3 1 4 1         2 1 12
91 SHVED, ALEXEY 23:39 9 3/6 1/5   1 1 2 2   2     2   2
Team             3 3               3
Totals 200:00 74 16/36 8/29 18/20 11 28 39 13 4 11 0 1 19 23 79
        44.4% 27.6% 90%

Head Coaches

AX Armani Exchange Milan

"You dream of a birthday gift like this and the players were amazing. The team was so intense and I think the minutes each player gave us are a good emblem of what we want to do on the court. We started a little shy, we missed a few shots and maybe were not believing that much we could win. Then our defense stepped up, it was a very solid defensive performance, everybody participated and it’s a huge win. Whenever you beat CSKA it’s an important win, so we’re very pleased. It’s a long road, 33 more games, so we’ll take a night to celebrate and tomorrow we go back to work. We started moving a little more the ball, we had a few backdoor cuts, a few slips with the bigs. They were difficult to attack with four smalls who are very big – players like Hackett and Grigonis are all 1.95, 1.97, so they can all switch and move their feet. I think we moved it ok, we’re working and improving. We’re not all of a sudden the best team in the world, but we’re working seriously and I’m happy for the players that they got this reward. Let me celebrate for 24 hours and then we’ll think about Baskonia.

"It was nice to play at home in front of a good crowd, and when we made energy plays the crowd liked it and got into the game. It’s so important to play in an atmosphere where the people off the court are involved in the game. I want to wish the best to Nikola Milutinov because it’s always sad when a player who has been injured re-injures again."

CSKA Moscow
"I would like to congratulate Milano for the first win. We had two different faces. The opening of the game, in the first quarter, we were playing solid defensively and very good offense. We were shooting 70% threes, 42% twos, 80% free throws, scoring 29 points. This is where the page turned and we did not respond to physicality at all. We didn’t go to the line, we were not making shots from the perimeter, shooting 1 of 11 in the second half and most of them were open looks. And 8 of our two-pointers in the second half, which is very poor. We have to make those shots. We were missing too many layups and getting nervous. Also in the last quarter, we had 6 turnovers and overall it was not the best performance, especially on physicality. This is a physical league and we were preparing for that, going out of our comfort zone and not getting calls easily. We have to be tougher. Milutinov has to go for an MRI scan and it doesn’t look good."


AX Armani Exchange Milan
"Besides the first quarter, we were very good on defense and we shared the ball on offense. We played very good. Against CSKA, it’s never easy. I hope Milutinov didn’t get injured too much, it’s nothing serious hopefully. We had a great win to start this EuroLeague campaign. After last year, playing is already enough [for me]. Having an important role in the team is huge for me, but that’s because the team allows me to have this kind of role. But we play as a team and this is the nice part, to suffer and battle on the court with your teammates. This is what I missed the most and I’m happy to have found this again."
AX Armani Exchange Milan
"We played great defense in the second half and that’s what allowed us to extend the lead and win the game. We weren’t guarding in the first half, but we stepped up in the second half and got it done. We’re growing as a team, we’re learning, we have a lot of new guys and this is only the start. Hopefully, we will build throughout the season and keep getting better every day."
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