EA7 Emporio Armani Milan routed Belgacom Spirou 88-53
Like a man dying of thirst who finds water, EA7-Emporio Armani Milan overran visiting Belgacom Spirou by 88-53 on Wednesday - the hosts' biggest Euroleague margin of victory this century - to stay in the race for the Top 16 from Group C. Milan ended a four-game losing streak and raised its record to 3-6, good for fifth place in the group. With fourth-place Partizan losing at Real Madrid to fall to 4-5, Milan will go to Belgrade in Week 10 for a winner-take-all showdown for the Group C's last remaining Top 16 berth. Since Partizan won their first game 65-69, Milan must win by 4 points or more next week to avoid its season being ended. Milan was ready for anything but that as it used a 19-3 run to start the second quarter on Wednesday to take huge leads that Spirou could never threaten. The 35-point final difference easily topped a 28-point win two years ago against EWE Baskets Oldenburg of Germany that had been Milan's biggest Euroleague win since 2000. Spirou played without its leader, injured point guard Demond Mallet, who was tied for second among all Euroleague scorers coming into the game. And it showed. Milan forced 15 turnovers on Spirou in the first 18 minutes to stake a high first-half lead of 21 points, 42-21, that the hosts guarded jealously the rest of the way. Milan got 17 points in 15 minutes off the bench from Leon Radosevic, 15 from Malik Hairston and 12 each from Drew Nicholas and Ioannis Bourousis, who also pulled 13 rebounds. Nicholas, Omar Cook and Jacopo Giachetti shared 20 assists. Spirou, eliminated from Top 16 contention before this game, fell to 2-7. The visitors got 12 points each from Jiri Welsch and Andre Riddick, plus 11 from Amaury Jadin, but otherwise didn't have enough firepower to challenge Milan on this night.
Hairston rushed the rim for Milan's first basket with an attacking style that became a trend for both teams. Welsch, taking over ballhandling duties in the absence of Mallet, got Spirou going from the foul line. Cook’s steal and layup followed by an inside basket by Antonis Fotsis had Milan ahead 8-4. Christopher Hill struck back with a baseline jumper for Spirou, but Hairston answered from a few steps deeper to make it 11-6. Welsch shredded the Milan defense and Hamilton hit a step-back jumper to get Spirou within 11-10. After a timeout, Cook picked Welsch's pocket for a layup, but Hamilton came the other way for a baseline jumper. When Hill answered a couple Milan turnovers with a jumper, Spirou had its first advantage, 13-14. Cook drove for a three-point play to re-take the lead for Milan, then free throws by Bourousis upped it to 18-14. Riddick revived Spirou with a put-back slam, but a triple off an inbounds pass by Nicholas and an end-of-quarter dunk by Radosevic sent Milan to a 23-18 advantage after 10 minutes.
Cook's pass set up Hairston for a three-point play to open the second quarter. Nicolo Melli joined the Milan scorers with a stop-and-pop swish and the game's first double-digit lead, 28-18. Riddick again got Spirou unstuck with a free throw, but Melli kept pacing Milan with a big triple. When Radosevic scored twice in a row inside, it was 34-19 and Spirou needed a timeout. The visitors found a backdoor layup from Jadin, just in off the bench, but left Nicholas alone to make 2 three-pointers that blew up the scoreboard at 40-21. The beat went on for Milan as Radosevic scored inside to make it 42-21. After another timeout, Riddick once again broke the spell for Spirou. He was virtually alone, however, as Milan kept stealing at will and Spirou's turnover total climbed to 15 already. A second-chance basket from Bourousis was matched by a drop-step layup from Tornike Shengelia and a triple from Jadin, Spirou's first, none of which kept Milan from reaching halftime fully in control, 48-30.
A trio of assists from Cook to Hairston, Bourousis and Fotsis, pumped up the difference to 54-30 to open the third quarter before Welsch finally got Spirou back on the scoreboard. Cook simply found Hairston for a three-pointer in response, however, as Milan refused to lower its intensity level. Shengelia and Bourousis traded baskets, but soon Spirou's misses piled up as Milan eased ahead 61-34. Spirou had flourishes like a wild put-back dunk by the 38-year-old Riddick, but when Nicholas rejoined the Milan scorers from the arc, it was 64-36. Riddick dunked again on the break and Caleb Green scored in transition. When Jady finished the third quarter with a triple, Spirou had completed a 1-10 run to get within 65-46 after 30 minutes.
After a pair of Milan turnovers to open the final quarter, no one needed to be reminded that the hosts had lost bigger second-half leads than 19 points on their own court this season. But Spirou failed to take advantage as Melli and Radosevic dunked to push the difference to 69-46. A three-point play by Radosevic and 4 points in a row by Jeff Viggiano meant the game's highest lead yet, 76-46. And the hosts kept pouring it on. Another three-point play by Radosevic made it 79-46. When Arriel Filoy came off the bench to add his 5 points in a row, Milan was up 84-50, en route to its biggest Euroleague victory this century, and full of momentum heading into next week's survival test against Partizan in Belgrade.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011