Olimpia goes to Berlin, coach Messina: We need our physicality and defense back

Olimpia goes to Berlin, coach Messina: We need our physicality and defense back

Melli: We are coming off three straight losses, so the goal is to get back on the right path, right where we were three weeks ago.

Olimpia is back on the road to face the sixth road game of its EuroLeague season, the second in Germany, because on Friday December 3rd, Olimpia will face Alba in Berlin. Milan is coming off three defeats, two of them on the road, that have slowed down the great start generated by winning eight of the first nine games. Alba had also lost three consecutive games but bounced back in the last round defeating Maccabi at home with 91-point effort. With the return of the Swedish shooter Marcus Eriksson, Alba has increased the perimeter firepower necessary to make up for its defensive numbers: Alba is allowing 79.7 points per game and more than 38 percent shooting from three. Olimpia recovered Malcolm Delaney in its last outing, but undoubtedly struggled to make up for Dinos Mitoglou’s injury. Before getting injured, he was the third-best scorer and rebounder on the team, and he had an impressive 60.5 percent shooting from two. For this game, Olimpia will have Ben Bentil, just signed, but won’t have available Riccardo Moraschini and Kaleb Tarczewski.

Tip-off is scheduled to take place at 20:00 on Friday, December 3rd.

COACH ETTORE MESSINA – “It is a complicated game, as obvious, because we are coming off three straight losses and we need to rebuild our physicality and defensive quality to raise the efficiency of our game, including at the offensive end of the floor. We used a couple of practices to insert Ben Bentil to our rotation and we are confident that he will be able to give us some contribution since we will miss both Dinos Mitoglou and Kaleb Tarczewski. We face a team based on movement, with and without the ball, and high pace, a team who was playing well under Coach Aito and it keeps playing well under Coach Gonzalez. So the game will be tough”.

NICOLO’ MELLI – “We are coming off three straight losses, so the goal is to get back on the right path, right where we were three weeks ago. We are fully aware of how difficult the game is going to be, because every EuroLeague game is tough, particularly on the road, but in Berlin we’ll face a team playing with great confidence and very dangerous.”

THE REFEREES – Sasa Pukl (Slovenka), Fernando Rocha (Portugal), Amit Balak (Israel)

ALBA BERLIN – After three consecutive defeats, Alba Berlin beat Maccabi Tel Aviv at home during the last round. The key man for the team is Luke Sikma, the only one who has always started so far, 12 times out of 12, the son of the great NBA star of the 70s and 80s, Jack Sikma. Sikma is a multidimensional power forward, who knows how to shoot (35.7 percent from three), pass (3.8 assists per game) and produces 10.7 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. The point guard is Maodo Lo, the German National Team point-guard during the last Olympics, the team leading scorer with 12.9 points per game and 41.4 percent from three-point range; out on the perimeter, there is the Swedish bomber Marcus Eriksson, who has lost six games with an injury but is now averaging 12.0 points per game, shooting 41.2 percent from three and 12/13 from the line; the other forward next to Sikma is Oscar da Silva, a Stanford rookie (18.5 points per game during his last season) who is scoring 11.8 points per game and making 70.8 percent of his two-point shots. The Israeli Yavel Zoosman is averaging 6.2 points per game and has also plenty of time on the court. During the last few games, Tamir Blatt, the son of coach David Blatt, has gained space himself and he is dishing, now, 3.4 assists per game. The same is true for the 2.23 mt. tall Chris Koumadje, who is averaging 6.8 points with 5.0 rebounds and 75 percent from the field. Then there are 20-year-old Malte Delow, a guard, Jonas Mattisseck, also a shooter (38.5 percent from three), center Ben Lammers (5.8 points per game), jumper Louis Olinde (5.8 points per game), guard Jaleen Smith (5.9 points and 2.1 assists per game) and the veteran Johannes Thiemann (5.7 points, a 60.0 percent shooter).


HISTORY VS. ALBA – During the 2015/16 Eurocup, Olimpia lost 83-67 in Berlin (18 points from Jamel McLean) but took revenge in Milan winning 91-78 (28 points by) Kruno Simon. Before the current EuroLeague took shape, the two teams met in the 1995 Korac Cup final when Bogdan Tanjevic’s Stefanel lost to Alba Berlin. To date, this is the only European success of Alba who tied 87-87 in Milan but won 95-87 at home with Teo Alibegovic’s 34 points that thwarted Nando Gentile’s 29 points. The two teams also faced each other in the 1996/97 edition of the old Euroleague: Alba won 91-80 in Milan, Olimpia responded in Berlin, 78-68. In the first leg of the 2019/20 season, Olimpia won 81-78 in Berlin with 17 points from Sergio Rodriguez and 14 from Luis Scola. In the return game, Alba won 102-96 led by 22 points scored by Marcus Eriksson. Vlado Micov had 20, Sergio Rodriguez had 13 points and nine assists. During the last season, Olimpia won the game in Milan 75-55 and then repeated in Berlin 94-80 with 16 points from Zach LeDay and 14 from Gigi Datome. In all, it is 3-1 in today’s version of the EuroLeague, 4-2 including the Eurocup; 5-4-1 all-time.

GAME NOTES – Sergio Rodriguez has played 77 games for Olimpia in the EuroLeague tying the great Mike D’Antoni in the all-time list. Chacho is also one point shy of Alessandro Gentile’s second place for points scored in the EuroLeague modern era (824 vs 825), while he is fifth all-time. Gigi Datome played his 250th game in Istanbul. He was the 26th player to reach this milestone, but the first Italian to do so. Datome has scored 2,169 career points, becoming the new Italian record holder in this too. He surpassed Gianluca Basile.

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