A defending champion and former full-season MVP who jumped at the challenge of raising a new team to great heights, Sergio Rodriguez of AX Armani Exchange Milan, is EuroLeague Basketball's choice as the MVP of October in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague. Rodriguez, 33, was the point man as Milan shook off an opening-night loss to claim five consecutive victories and close the month tied for first place. Its October winning streak culminated in Milan knocking off previously unbeaten FC Barcelona at home as Rodriguez scored 9 points and dished 2 assists in less than 2 minutes at the end of the game. As the month ended, Rodriguez was leading Milan in scoring, assists, three-pointers and free throws made, steals and performance index rating. He also ranked among the EuroLeague's top 12 players in five of those six categories. His immediate impact has resulted in Milan's best start of the century and earned Rodriguez the first MVP of the Month honor in his 10-year EuroLeague career.
The MVP of the Month honor is now in its 16th season. Although statistics and performance index ratings are taken into consideration for the award, they alone do not determine who is honored. The winner is named by Euroleague Basketball based on his and his team's performance. The award for October covers the six games that all teams played between October 3 and November 1. Rodriguez is just the second Milan player ever to win the award, after Mike James did so in February of last season.
The season and the month started slow for Milan, which suffered a 78-64 road loss to FC Bayern Munich despite Rodriguez scoring 14 points and dishing 6 assists. In the team's Round 2 home opener, he was the big gun in an 85-81 decision over visiting Zalgiris Kaunas. Rodriguez had team-highs of 17 points and 6 assists that night while making 3 of 4 three-pointers. Milan's first road win came by 78-79 against Panathinaikos OPAP Athens in Round 3 as he scored 10 points and handed out 5 assists. Next up, mighty Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul visited Milan, but never got in the game as the hosts prevailed 87-74 behind 22 points and 5 assists from Rodriguez. Back on the road in Round 5, Rodriguez was the catalyst in a 78-81 victory at ALBA Berlin in which he led Milan with 17 points. Against Barcelona in the last game of the month, Rodriguez broke open a 66-64 scoreboard with 2:30 to play by burying 3 three-pointers and dishing 2 assists in the next 2 minutes as Milan roared to an 83-70 victory. He finished with game-highs of 17 points, 7 assists and 5 three-pointers made to Barcelona's team total of 7.
Milan had won five or more games in a row just three times in 13 previous EuroLeague campaigns this century, and this new streak has the fingerprints of Rodriguez all over it. He finished October ranked sixth among all EuroLeague players in scoring with 16.7 points per game; fifth in assists (5.5); tied for fifth in triples made (15); tied for 10th in free throws made (20); and 11th in average PIR (17.3). Most important, Rodriguez was the team leader in minutes played as Milan posted a 5-1 record to claim a share of first place later in this season than the team ever had done before this century. The fans in Milan will be sure to recognize Rodriguez's efforts when he receives the October MVP trophy at an upcoming home game.