EA7 Milan holds off Greens for sixth straight home win
EA7 Emporio Armani Milan survived a big rally from Panathinaikos Athens and held on for a dramatic 77-75 victory in the Game of the Week at Mediolanum Forum, the site of the 2014 Final Four. The win improved Milan’s record to 5-3 and at least a share of second place in Group E, while Panathinaikos dropped to 4-4, but does hold a head-to-head tie-breaker thanks to a 16-point win over Milan in Top 16 Round 1. Milan did not allow a field goal for more than seven minutes and used a 16-4 spurt bridging the first and second quarters to open up a double-digit lead. The hosts extended the margin to 18 points by going 8 of 11 from three-point range in the first half, and held a 41-26 advantage at halftime. But the Greens slowly rallied in the third behind newcomer Zack Wright and James Gist, and the two fueled a late 2-12 run that got Panathinaikos within 3 points. Samardo Samuels was the force inside for the hosts, however, and a triple from Bruno Cerella helped Milan hang on to its lead. Keith Langford paced the winners with 18 points plus 5 assists. Samuels had 16 points, and Curtis Jerrells netted 10 for Milan. Gist collected 21 points plus 9 rebounds for the visitors, Wright finished with 17 points, while Antonis Fotsis had 10 in addition to 7 rebounds in defeat.
First quarter: Milan grabs control with defense and triples
Samuels opened the game with a close-range basket for the hosts, and Gist scored inside for the Greens. After Jonas Maciulis scored a put-back, Nicolo Melli and Gist traded triples for 6-7. David Moss nailed a corner three for Milan, before Stephane Lasme and Langford traded layups to make it 11-11. After a timeout, in the remaining five minutes of the quarter, the hosts did not allow another field goal. Behind such defensive effort, Milan went on an 8-0 run. Samuels sparked things with a monster dunk, and with triples from Langford and Jerrells, the hosts held 19-13 advantage after the quarter.
Second quarter: Hosts pull away with a show from downtown
The run for the hosts continued in the second quarter, too. Gentile banked in a runner, before Jerrells sank another one from downtown, 24-13. Michael Bramos ended the visitors' drought with a dunk, but Langford hit another triple for a 12-point margin. Wright scored his first points in a Panathinaikos uniform when he stole the ball and raced for a layup, but Cerella had an uncontested layup of his own on the other end to make it 29-17. Gentile added another tough drive to the tally, before Cerella and Genitle hit Milan’s seventh and eighth three-pointers, making it 37-19. Quick layups from Wright and Bramos cut the deficit. Jerrells scored from close range, and Gani Lawal made a fastbreak layup, but Bramos beat the buzzer with a corner triple that made it 41-26 at halftime.
Third quarter: Gist and the newcomer Wright keep Greens in range
Fotsis started the third quarter with a second-chance triple. Ukic hit a floater to make it 41-32, but Langford nailed a triple to put Milan back into a double-digit lead. Gist had a tip-in, before Daniel Hackett drove for a layup high off the glass, 48-34. Gist drove an open lane for a monster two-handed dunk, but Samuels powered his way in traffic on the other end. Panathinaikos cut into the lead as Wright made a baseline floater, then went coast-to-coast for a basket-plus-foul, and a 52-41 score. Moss nailed a three-pointer to keep the Greens at bay, but a put-back from Fotsis followed by a breakaway basket-plus-foul from Maciulis got Panathinaikos within 55-46. Samuels kept making his presence felt inside, grabbing an offensive rebounds and making free throws before slamming home a powerful dunk over Gist, but Gist answered with a three-pointer to make it 59-49 after three quarters.
Fourth quarter: Panathinaikos forces drama, but Milan holds on
Samuels had a layup to open the scoring in the fourth quarter, but Gist had a tip-in with a free throw to make it 62-52. Now, it was the visitors’ defense at work, keeping Milan without a field goal for more than five minutes, while Wright scored a driving layup, Gist a put-back, and Fotsis a triple. After a timeout, Dimitirs Diamantidis scored his first points of the game, a layup cutting it to 64-61 with 4 minutes to go. Samuels split free throws and Langford hit 3 of 4, but Wright had a put-back and Gist slammed an alley-oop from Diamantidis to keep it a 3-point game. But Cerella sank a triple, and Samuels powered his way for another slam and 73-67 with under 90 seconds to go. After Fotsis made a pair from the foul line, Milan hustled to grab 3 offensive rebounds in the final minute and get Milan closer to victory. Wright’s layup cut it to 74-71, before free throws from Wright and Diamantidis got Panathinaikos within 76-75 with 4.5 ticks to go. Langford split his free throws, leaving the visitors 3.2 seconds for the final possession, but Wright did not manage to shoot a game-tying attempt in time, and the hosts celebrated a big win.
Thursday, February 27, 2014