ALBA holds off Milan, 81-76
ALBA Berlin won consecutive games for the first time this season by holding off the visiting AX Armani Exchange Milan 81-76 on Friday night. The win took ALBA's record to 5-8 record, while Milan suffered its fourth consecutive loss, dropping to 8-5. ALBA took the lead for good early in the second quarter, built a 17-point lead in the third behind Marcus Eriksson, then in the fourth quarter made clutch stops and key shots after Milan closed to within a single point. Eriksson netted 21 points on 5-for-8 three-point shooting to lead the winners while Maodo Lo had 12 points and 6 assists. Malcolm Delaney scored 12 and Kyle Hines had 10 points for Milan.
Nicolo Melli and Delaney got Milan going with three-pointers but Eriksson answered with his own before Luke Sikma and Yovel Zoosman put ALBA up 11-8. Luigi Datome nailed a baseline jumper for the visitors that Christ Koumadje improved upon with 6 points, including a tip-in and an alley-oop dunk to open a 19-10 ALBA lead. Milan newcomer Ben Bentil scored inside and Sergio Rodriguez from outside to cut the difference to 19-15 after 10 minutes.
Milan opened the second quarter with a three-point play from Bentil and a fastbreak layup from Hines to take a 19-20 lead. Louis Olinde snapped a 0-10 run with a three-pointer for ALBA as the teams traded leads thanks to baskets from Johannes Thiemann and Delaney. A transition triple from Eriksson shot ALBA in front 33-27. Oscar da Silva scored inside and Eriksson knocked down another triple at 38-29. Delaney answered with a corner three, but Lo finished the first-half scoring with his team's fourth triple of the quarter for a 43-34 halftime edge.
Bentil hit a three-pointer for the visitors after the break, but Eriksson answered with his fourth from deep, then knocked down a fifth on as many attempts to make it 51-40. Sikma scored, then dished a pair of assists for Lo and Ben Lammers to open the lead to 60-43. Melli had a basket-plus-free throw combination to spark a 7-0 Milan run, cutting the margin to 10 points, but a triple from Tamir Blatt helped ALBA take a 67-56 lead into the fourth quarter.
Devon Hall opened the final stanza with a three-point play that Rodriguez matched for Milan with one shot. Hines added a layup to help cut the difference further, to 69-66. Sikma's three-pointer midway through the quarter gave ALBA breathing room and Olinde followed suit to make it 77-72. Hines and Hall scored inside to make get Milan as close as ever, 77-76, but Eriksson made both of his free throws and Lammers hit a baseline jumper with 35 seconds to go, sealing the deal.
Sikma, Eriksson keyed ALBA's win
Marcus Eriksson scored a game-high 21 points and was hot in the first three quarters. He made his first 5 three-point attempts and his off-balance jumper, which players make only when they look like they simply cannot miss, opened a 62-45 lead in the third quarter. Then there was Luke Sikma, who finished with 9 points, a game-high 7 assists and 6 rebounds. His passing created many easy baskets for his teammates, and along with Eriksson he was the main reason ALBA held a 17-point third-quarter lead, one which it had cling to but never relinquished.
ALBA entered the game ranked second-to-last among all EuroLeague teams in defensive rebounding. But in this game, that's where ALBA dominated most. The hosts outrebounded Milan 42-26, pulling down 12 offensive boards while holding the visitors to just 5. Such a rebounding display helped ALBA play to its strengths, running the floor and getting transition baskets.
Three-point shooting play key role
ALBA had a far better shooting night than Milan. The hosts made 11-of-28 three-point shots (39.3%) compared to Milan's 6-of-23 (26.1%). And while ALBA used three-pointers to build its lead, Milan's misses had plenty to do with the outcome. Milan was 5-for-14 from long range in the first three quarters, but then hit just 1 of 9 shots from downtown in the fourth. ALBA was 2-for-9 in the fourth quarter, but those shots by Luke Sikma and Louis Olinde came in the final 4 minutes of the game, in answer to Milan closing within 71-70. With no more forthcoming from the visitors, ALBA held onto its fifth victory of the season.
Friday, December 3, 2021