Milan's defense stifles ALBA
AX Armani Exchange Milan notched its third consecutive victory on Tuesday night with a superb defensive performance to beat ALBA Berlin 75-55 at Mediolanum Forum. The game, which was a makeup fixture from Round 6 after that game was originally postponed, saw Milan improve its record to 6-3 and dropped ALBA to 3-7. Milan, which used a 16-0 run that bridged the first and second quarters to pull away for good, held ALBA to 14 points or fewer in three of the four quarters while scoring at least 19 in three of the four quarters. Kevin Punter led all scorers with 14 points for the winners and Zach LeDay and Sergio Rodriguez added 12 apiece, with the latter also contributing 5 assists. Peyton Siva and Maodo Lo paced ALBA with 11 points each and Luke Sikma contributed 6 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists.
The game got off to a slow start with ALBA's guards giving the visitors an early lead. Punter nailed a three from the corner to put Milan ahead. After Ben Lammers scored twice for ALBA, Jeff Brooks, making his first start of the season, evened things at 9-9 midway through the opening quarter with a triple. The Milan defense turned up the heat and forced ALBA into turnovers on three straight possessions, while LeDay and Kyle Hines fueled an 8-0 run for a 19-13 advantage after 10 minutes. Milan kept ALBA scoreless for nearly 4 minutes to start the second quarter while Milan reeled off another 8 straight points to lead 27-13. Sikma came alive for ALBA with a jumper and an assist to Maodo Lo for a layup. After a Milan timeout, Luigi Datome came off the bench and quickly blocked a shot and buried a triple for a 15-point lead. Rodriguez and Shavon Shields padded the lead, which reached 42-22 on a basket-plus-foul by Shields in the final seconds of the half.
Siva provided a spark for ALBA with a steal, assist and and-one in the first 3 minutes of the third quarter, however, Malcolm Delaney and Punter kept Milan in total control. The lead continued to grow with Punter stretching it to 25 early in the quarter and Rodriguez to 27 later. A triple by Louis Olinde made it 64-41 through three quarters. ALBA never threw in the towel and slowly chipped away at the deficit. Johannes Thiemann made it 66-48 with a bucket inside, but before long Punter put his stamp on the game with a three-pointer on one end and a block at the other as Milan wrapped up the victory.
After Johannes Thiemann's steal and layup gave ALBA an 11-13 lead in the opening quarter, the visitors were held without points for the next 7 and a half minutes. Milan scored on four of its next five possessions while forcing ALBA into three straight turnovers to lead 19-13 after 10 minutes. The hosts did not cool off by scoring the first 8 points of the second quarter. Five players scored for Milan in its 16-0 run, led by Zach LeDay with 6 points, and ALBA never threatened again.
The hosts controlled the game through defense, forcing ALBA into 17 turnovers and blocking 5 shots. Moreover, ALBA was limited to 15-for-39 shooting (38.5%) on two-pointers and 5-for24 (20.8%) on threes.
Did you notice?
Milan held a team below 60 points for the first time since March 2019, when it bested Olympiacos Piraeus 66-57. ALBA's 55 points scored marked the club’s lowest offensive output in the EuroLeague in 17 years. The club-low in the EuroLeague is 53 points in a loss to Idea Slask in November 2003.
Both teams return to action in two days for Round 12 on Thursday, December 3.
Milan hosts Panathinaikos OPAP Athens, and ALBA visits Valencia Basket.
Tuesday, December 1, 2020