Bologna, beaten at home, must avoid 0-2. Hines: “It will be an even more physical match”
An old adage from the playoffs says that a series begins when one of the two teams wins away from home. The championship final began immediately: Milan won game-1 in Bologna, where Virtus had never lost in this championship. Tonight in race-2 (at 9pm live TV Eurosport 2 and RaiSport, streaming Discovery +), Virtus is called to a response in a sports hall of the Fiera which, as in race-1, is not announced to be sold out (while the Forum is full also for the race -4). The memory of the 2021 finals is fresh: the Bologna team surprised Milan with two away wins that led them to play the Scudetto at home with confidence and determination, while Olimpia always struggled late in the score and in the game. The situation is obviously different, even if the victory of the Eurocup and the achievement of the Euroleague, a declared seasonal goal, could have unconsciously satisfied the Italian champions, as last year the qualification for the Euroleague Final Four had emptied, especially physically , Milan. In four points, here are the themes of the second challenge for the title: defense, rebounds, key men and state of form.
Virtus has been the most productive team in attack in this championship: over 86 points per game. In race-1 he scored only 62 points, the minimum of the season, of which 22 only in the last quarter in the furious comeback attempt. The defense of Milan was the least beaten not only in Italy but in the Euroleague. And Olimpia’s impact on game-1, especially in its half of the pitch, was from the Euroleague. Virtus’ percentages were still among the lowest of the team’s season. Never in the championship did Teodosic and his teammates stop at 40.9 per cent from two (total average 56.3) and only on two occasions did he shoot worse than three: in the first final they stopped at 22.5 per cent, after the 16.7 percent of the victory with Cremona and 20.8 percent of the success in Venice. Mam Jaiteh’s bad night was significant: the French center, awarded Eurocup mvp, scored only one shot out of 4 attempts with 25 per cent after a season as top marksman for two with 65.8 per cent on par with Tyrique Jones (Pesaro). Against the pair Kyle Hines and Nicolò Melli, Jaiteh got a taste of the level of attention and physicality he will find next year in the Euroleague. Milan also had low percentages: 45.8 per cent from 2 and 13 from 3. But thanks to offensive rebounds, he shot more: 71 times against 66.
With such sterile attacks, control of rebounds proved to be a key point of the first game. Milan has reached a total of 50 rebounds, three from the seasonal record (at home with Tortona) and 4 from the absolute team record (with Desio in 1990). The figure of rebounds in attack is even more decisive: Olimpia reached 17, equaling the seasonal record (with Napoli on the first day). Bentil’s 4 and Hines and Melli’s 3 each guaranteed Milan second shots that counterbalanced the many errors in the conclusions. Virtus remained at the level of the season with 41 total rebounds (the average is 40.8) of which 11 in attack (average 10.4) but without the usual offensive effectiveness. The Virtus coach, after the match, in fact underlined how the team must “restart from point one of our match plan, that is, check the rebounds”. While the steal figure was almost in balance (4 for Milan and 3 for Virtus), the impression on the pitch was that Ettore Messina’s team was always ahead and more reactive. Having to chase almost the entire game also brought out a certain nervousness for Hackett and his teammates.
If in the previous series against Reggio Emilia and Sassari, Olimpia had had a substantial contribution from the bench, only 13 points arrived in race-1 of the final outside the starting quintet. Of course it is not just a problem of realization, especially since Melli starts from the bench but it was important. The offensive impact of Shavon Shields was crucial as was that of Gigi Datome, the only one to find three-point baskets. Shields scored 18 points in 32 minutes and was the most used player of the two teams. Good shot from 6.75, has an average of 40.3 percent of achievement, Shavon has not even attempted a triple. He hit with his penetrations and one-on-one. Above all, Kyle Weems, one of the players that Virtus must find, has struggled: for some weeks now he has been playing far below his possibilities and, for the first time this season, he has not scored even a point. After the fright of a sprained ankle after just over a minute, Milos Teodosic took over the team with triple and leadership. Alongside him, however, many have not made the usual contribution. From Jaiteh to Weems, but also Belinelli and Shengelia.
The game was not good but, as they say in these cases, intense. In addition to Teodosic’s sprain, Virtus had to deal with a blow to Toko Shengelia’s right arm. The two players returned to the field and have not had any aftermath from the two episodes. At the end of the match Ben Bentil was released with a pain in his left knee: according to what the club said yesterday, “the Milan strong forward will try to play anyway”. The state of form of the two teams will also be influenced by the nervousness and the fact of playing every 48 hours emphasizes any small or large physical setback. “I expect it will be an even more physical game-2 – said Hines on the eve – and they will try to play better. We will have to be ready”. Even Chacho Rodriguez points out that “Game-2 will be another physical match, we will have to keep the same attention. When there is so much tension and this kind of pressure, it is never easy to play as brilliantly as we have done in the last month. “.
10 June – 09:28
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