Bayern holds off Milan to stay alive
FC Bayern Munich kept its Final Four hopes alive by overcoming AX Armani Exchange Milan 85-79 at home in Game 3 of the teams' best-of-five Turkish Airlines EuroLeague series on Wednesday. The teams will now return on Friday with Bayern looking to square the series and Milan seeking the victory it needs to advance to the Final Four. Bayern raced to a double-digit lead with a 14-0 run before the end of the first quarter, but Milan battled back and briefly led in the second quarter, which finished with Bayern narrowly in front, 39-35. The home team opened the second half with another 14-0 tear and stayed in front the rest of the way despite Milan keeping it close. Vladimir Lucic was the home team’s main inspiration, pairing 27 points with 7 rebounds. Wade Baldwin IV and Paul Zipser both added 11 points and JaJuan Johnson had 9 points and 9 rebounds. Malcolm Delaney led Milan with 18 points, while Sergio Rodriguez and Shavon Shields both scored 11.
Diego Flaccadori opened the scoring from deep, before Johnson and Baldwin gave the hosts a 7-0 start. Kevin Punter finally sparked Milan to life and the visitors pulled it back to 9-9 through Delaney and Zach LeDay. Lucic with a triple and Jalen Reynolds with a hook pulled Bayern clear again. Sisko hit another three and Reynolds added another pair of scores before DJ Seeley finished the first quarter at 23-9 after a 14-0 Bayern run. Kyle Hines ignited Milan with a fastbreak dunk and Rodriguez added a layup-and-one. Zipser’s tip-in was answered by Luigi Datome’s fadeaway and a pair of Shields triples. James Gist snapped the 0-8 run with a mid-range strike, but Datome struck again to make it 27-25. Free throws pushed Bayern further ahead, but 5 points from Delaney and a three from Jeff Brooks gave Milan its first and only lead, 32-33. Lucic sent Bayern straight back in front and Zipser added a fastbreak layup-and-one to give the hosts a halftime lead, 39-35.
Bayern started the second half with a reverse from Leon Radosevic and a mid-range jumper from Johnson. Baldwin then scored 4 consecutive points to take the advantage back to double digits and Lucic capped a 14-0 run for a 53-35 lead. Shields finally opened Milan’s second-half account with a dunk, but Lucic stayed hot with a long two and a three-pointer to send Bayern ahead 58-40. Rodriguez boosted Milan with a three-pointer and a slicing layup before Sisko’s inside score was answered by Punter’s triple-and-one to make it 64-51 after three quarters. Delaney reduced the deficit to single digits with a four-point play and then added a layup-and-one to make it 64-58. Lucic settled Bayern with another three-pointer and Sisko added a jumper for a 69-58 lead. Zipser and Johnson kept the advantage in double figures despite another Delaney triple before Hines made a three-point play for a 75-66 margin with 5 minutes left. Zipser’s free throws and Gist’s mid-range strike stretched the lead as Milan’s offense went cold. LeDay and Michael Roll made it 80-73 going into the final minute and Kaleb Tarczewski added a trio of dunks, but Lucic free throws allowed Bayern to hold on.
Landmark win for German basketball
The victory was not only Bayern’s first in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Playoffs, but also the first gained by any German team at this stage of the season. It was also the first win in the playoffs for Coach Andrea Trinchieri and it came against the team where he started his coaching career as an assistant.
Sisko steps up after Baldwin fouls out
Bayern’s backcourt leader Wade Baldwin IV fouled out very early in the fourth quarter, but Zan Sisko rose to the challenge with one of his best performances. The Slovenian point guard scored 9 points and added a career-high 8 assists in 25:54 on the court, another personal best.
Milan starts both halves slowly
Milan was held scoreless for the opening 3:33 of the game, in which it missed its first 6 shots. The same story was then repeated after halftime, with the visitors failing to score for nearly 5 minutes at the start of the third quarter and again missing 6 straight shots.
Bayern stifles Milan’s creativity
Bayern’s defense generally did a great job of clamping down on Milan’s playmakers. Sergio Rodriguez (2) and Malcolm Delaney (1) combined for just 3 assists and the Italian team was limited to just 11 assists.
Wednesday, April 28, 2021