The shock heard 'round the Euroleague early on Friday has proven to be true this afternoon: Ettore Messina, one of the head coaching giants in the sport, has resigned from the Real Madrid bench. His decision came swiftly on Friday, the morning after what had been an unbeaten Top 16 until then ended Thursday night with a 77-95 home loss to Montepaschi Siena. Both teams were qualified for the playoffs and Madrid had already clinched first place in their group, so the game was essentially meaningless. But obviously not for Messina, who arrived to Madrid two summers ago, but was unable to win a trophy yet for the club with the most European club titles, but none since 1995. Both were disappointed with having lost the Spanish King's Cup at home last month to archrival Regal F.C. Barcelona. But in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague, Madrid had its best Top 16 finish ever, 5-1, tying its record of two seasons ago, although then it lost first place in a tie-breaker - to Barcelona. Messina arrived to Madrid from CSKA Moscow, where he won Euroleague titles in 2006 and 2008, as well as four Russian Leagues from 2005 to 2009. He had previously won two Euroleague titles with Kinder Bologna in his native Italy, in 1998 and 2001. Messina was replaced by his long-time assistant coach, Emanuele Molin, who will take over the job of leading Madrid into the best-of-five playoffs against Power Electronics Valencia starting on March 22.
"I decided to do what I did in order to help achieve a union on and off the court, which is absolutely necessary," Messina explained in a press conference on Saturday. "I lost the opportunity to be in my tenth Final Four in 10 years. I have also lost, I have sacrificed. If I have done this, it's because I want to help.
"It's been a very interesting year-and-a-half, with many important experiences, and it's something that doesn't happen to everyone in their professional lives. I'd like that say thanks for that and thanks to the fans who have supported us and give respect to those who have criticized us."