Gigi Datome promised it since day one: “I miss winning in Italy, I won something in Siena, but I didn’t have an important role, I was very young. I would like to have a significant role in the next Olimpia’s wins.” The first is already here. “Winning the Super Cup is not the ultimate goal, but it is a start,” he said immediately after the end of a competition in which Milan won eight games and has essentially never trailed in the score in the second half of any game.
In the championship game, Gigi Datome offered the best of his arsenal, confirming his reputation as a “Clutch Player”: while at Fenerbahce he was MVP of the 2016 Turkish League final, two times MVP of the Turkish Cup and once MVP of the President’s Cup. He wasn’t named the Final Four’s MVP, but he was certainly decisive in the championship game. His personal 5-0 run in the fourth period almost definitively extended Olimpia’s margin, which Sergio Rodriguez then defined. Datome’s game could have been difficult, as Jeff Brooks foul troubles extended his playing time, forcing him to combine quantity with quality. In fact, in the seven previous games he had never played 27 minutes (and had never scored 17 points, as well). Furthermore, the loss of Vlado Micov due to injury, early in the game, prevented Coach Messina from implementing even a small lineup at some point, with Micov playing as the nominal 4.
Throughout the tournament, Datome shot 57.1% from twos, 55.5% from threes, 92.8% from the line (13-for-14), had more steals (nine) than turnovers (seven), and Olimpia was +85 with him on the court. Finally, he set his torunament-high of six rebounds in the championship game, one more great effort. “Building a culture is what we were asked to do in Istanbul when I got there. It’s a matter of staying together, working hard, every day. It’s a long process, but a beautiful and motivating one. We have the tools and the human resources to achieve it,” he said. Now the first step has been executed. Many more are necessary. But, yes, it is a start.