Messina: “In Tel Aviv we need to show some competitiveness”

The Israeli team has won 13 of the 15 home games played in Euroleague

On the historic Tel Aviv court, against a team whose history is intertwined with its own, Olimpia faces the last abroad game of the season. The EuroLeague has scheduled yet another road game, on April 13, but it will be in Italy, in Bologna. This is the last back-to-back setting. It is the second time this year that Milan stays on the road for two straight games. It had won both in October, Belgrade and Munich, over a long week the team returned from without Shavon Shields. This time Shields is available at the end of a season in which he was able to play, and often with restrictions, just seven games. Olimpia is coming from a subpar performance in Istanbul and will play the fourth game in exactly seven days, the last of the 12 games played in March. At the same time, it has won eight of its last ten games. The level of difficulty, however, does not drop at all in the trip to Israel, which took place in the afternoon: Maccabi has also won eight of its last ten, is chasing the highest possible seed in the playoff grid and has the best record EuroLeague home record of the season.

REFEREES – Borys Rizhyk (Ukraine), Tomislav Hordov (Croatia), Saso Petek (Slovenia).

COACH ETTORE MESSINA – “Maccabi has so far been the best EuroLeague team on its court. They are playing with extreme confidence, they have won eight of their last ten games, they have an athletic team, with guards with great offensive talent and experience, dangerous big men inside and also, like Colson and Martn, capable to stretch the floor. We come from a subpar performance in Istanbul, after a very good period of games, so the goal, despite all the typical difficulties of every Tel Aviv game, is to get back to play at a good level and show the required competitive spirit.”

MACCABI TEL AVIV – Maccabi is built by Coach Oded Katash (a great star of the past including a successful stint with Panathinaikos) around two ball-dominant guards,Lorenzo Brown and Wade Baldwin, who combines for 35 points and almost 11 assists on average. Baldwin is the team leading scorer (17.3 points and 4.6 assists per game), Lorenzo Brown is the most used player with over 31 minutes on the court. For him there are 16.6 points and 5.6 assists on average. Behind them, veteran John Di Bartolomeo (6.1 points per game, 44.9 percent from three) and Jaylen Adams (6.7 points per game) are coming off the bench. Darrun Hilliard (who’s averaging only 4.6 points per game, but he is converting 44.6 percent of his threes) can play as a shooting guard and a small forward but generally comes off the bench. The starting small forward is the massive Bonzi Colson, who can also play as a power forward, is averaging 11.1 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, shooting 38.9 percent from three. The power forwards are Jaleel Martin (7.2 points and 3.5 rebounds per game, but he can effectively shoot the ball from the perimeter too) and the athletic Roman Sorkin (6.7 points per game, 68.4 percent on twos). The center is Josh Nebo (7.1 points, 6.0 rebounds per game), a very physical player, supported by the experienced Jake Cohen. Maccabi lost guard Austin Hollins and center Alex Poythress to injuries during the season.

HISTORY VS. MACCABI – Olimpia have won two of its three European titles by beating Maccabi Tel-Aviv in the championship game. In Lausanne on April 2, 1987, the game finished 71-69 for Milan, and the coach was Dan Peterson. A year later, in Ghent, it finished 90-84 again for Olimpia in the Final Four’s championship game. The coach was Franco Casalini. Overall, the two teams have met 40 times and the record is favorable to Maccabi 21-19. In Milan it is 13-6 for Olimpia. In Tel Aviv 15-4 for Maccabi. On a neutral court it is 2-0 for Olimpia. In the EuroLeague era the all-time record is 14-9 for Maccabi, 8-4 for Olimpia in Milan. In the 2014 playoffs, Maccabi prevailed 3-1 in the series and eventually won the title in Milan. Two years ago, Olimpia broke a streak that started in 1987 by winning 86-85 in Tel Aviv after an overtime with Malcolm Delaney’s winning jumper. Last season, Olimpia won in Milan 83-72 with 16 points scored by Devon Hall and 14 by Dinos Mitoglou. Maccabi won the early meeting between these two teams 77-71 in Milan.

MACCABI CONNECTION – During the 2020/21 season in St. Petersburg, Kevin Pangos and Billy Baron played along Austin Hollins and Alex Poythress (both of them are out for this game). Darrun Hilliard has played at Bayern Munich with Deshaun Thomas, at CSKA Moscow with Johannes Voigtmann and for one season with Kyle Hines. Finally, during the 2018/19 season in Vitoria, he had among his teammates Shavon Shields. Lorenzo Brown and Billy Baron have played together at Red Star Belgrade. Deshaun Thomas has spent the 2017/18 season with Maccabi.

NICOLO’ MELLI NOTES – After becoming Olimpia Milan’s all-time leading rebounder in the EuroLeague, Nicolò Melli surpassed the 2.000-point scored barrier. He is the 20th player ever to have at least 2.000 points and 1.000 total rebounds. He has also grabbed his 1.000th defensive rebound. He is the sixth player ever to reach the feat. He has 1.007 now. Ante Tomic is in fifth place with 1.025. In Istanbul, he started a EuroLeague game for the 200th time, the 12th ever to start at least 200 games. Paulius Jankunas is leading the all-time list with 283. Melli is also the 9th best rebounder all-time, tied with Bryant Dunston at 1.347.

KYLE HINES NOTES – Kyle Hines is 19 defensive rebounds shy of 1.000 for his career. His streak of 106 consecutive games player for Olimpia is still active. He is the fourth-ever in Olimpia per EuroLeague appearances behind Kaleb Tarczewski, Nicolò Melli and Vlado Micov.

BILLY BARON NOTES – Olimpia is 10-4 when Billy Baron has scored in double digit. In Olimpia wins, Baron is averaging 14.5 points per game and is shooting 47.6 percent from three and 67.5 percent on twos.

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