Just like a year ago, Olimpia’s EuroLeague debut takes place in Munich against Bayern. At that time, Olimpia found an arena full of opposing fans, this year the scenario will be different, as everywhere (11 teams will start the season playing behind closed doors). Olimpia is still unbeaten, it defeated two EuroLeague teams, Zalgiris and Alba during the Kaunas tournament, but now the situation is much more complicated because of the absences of Vlado Micov (left elbow) and Kevin Punter (right leg). With 182 minutes and 115 points scored over eight official games, Punter has been the most productive and most employed Milan player, so far. Without him and Micov, 13 players remain available, but clearly something will be missing on the perimeter. The game will be played at the Audi Dome on Friday 2 October at 8.30 pm.
COACH ETTORE MESSINA – “We begin the most important European competition after a very good preseason. We face a very aggressive and athletic team like Bayern. We’ll need energy and finding resources among our bench players will be crucial to overcome the impact of missing two key players. The leadership of some of our players who were able to perform at a very high level in the EuroLeague for years will be fundamental while approaching a long and very demanding season.”
SERGIO RODRIGUEZ – “We are very focused on this Munich game, it’s a game we were waiting for a long time and now it is here. It’s the season opener and we start from the very same place we began last season with a loss, so we know what to expect. On top of it, we are missing two important pieces of our team. At the same time, we are have a lot of confidence in our strengths.”
THE OPPONENT – Bayern has not dramatically changed since last season. The newcomers are Wade Baldwin and Nick Weiler-Babb among the guards, while JaJuan Johnson, Jalen Reynolds and Malcolm Thomas are going to strenghten the front-line. There are many players returning. Including Nihad Dedovic, in his eighth consecutive season in Munich, Vladimir Lucic, in his fifth year with Bayern, Paul Zipser, who played in the NBA in Chicago (83 appearances) but was playing at Bayern even before moving overseas, Alex King, also in the fifth year here, and for the third year there’s still Leon Radosevic. There is also TJ Bray, who has practically not played last year due to an injury, and of course the knockdown Finnish shooter, Petteri Koponen. Baldwin has played 62 games in the NBA and last year was at Olympiacos where he began the season along Kevin Punter. Weiler-Babb is making his EuroLeague debut after a promising year (13.3 points per game in Ludwisburg) after three seasons in Iowa. JaJuan Johnson is new to the EuroLeague, but he has played four seasons in the Eurocup, the last in Kuban and in Italy he played for Pistoia and Cantù. Reynolds played in Reggio Emilia, but finished the season in Tel Aviv last year. Thomas played for Khimki and Fenerbahce, so he has considerable EuroLeague experience.
THE REFEREES – Miguel Angel Perez (Spain), Saso Petek (Slovenia), Spiros Gkontas (Greece).
NOTES – Sergio Rodriguez is riding a 24- made free throws streak and has made at least one three in his last 13 EuroLeague games… Zach LeDay has scored in double digit in his last five appearances and has made at least a three in five consecutive games… Gigi Datome has a streak of 13 consecutive made free throws… Kyle Hines is two steals away from 200 for his career.