Moraschini, Sykes stepped up in Milan's birthday win

Jan 10, 2020 by Print
Moraschini, Sykes stepped up in Milan's birthday win

AX Armani Exchange Milan celebrated its 84th birthday on Thursday, which also happened to be the night Panathinaikos OPAP Athens was coming to town. Tabbed as a crucial game, Milan aced the test by scoring a season-high 96 points, tying a season-high with 14 three-pointers made and led by double-digits for the majority of the final 12 minutes.

The win was huge because Milan swept Panathinaikos, which could turn into a deciding tiebreak advantage when the regular season comes to its close. Sergio Rodriguez starred as the top scorer with 22 points, however, a couple of not-so-usual-suspects off the bench played key roles in Milan's birthday victory.

The one who got Milan's offense going was swingman Riccardo Moraschini, who scored 10 of his 12 points in the first half, including a pair of triples, to put Milan up for good in the second quarter and give it a first significant lead.

It was the first double-digit scoring game in the EuroLeague for Moraschini, who himself turned 29 on Wednesday. He is playing in his second EuroLeague season, but first in more than a decade; he was with Virtus Bologna as a teenager in the 2007-08 season. Moraschini had been held scoreless in five of his 11 appearances before Thursday's game, but he not only scored 12 points in more than 26 minutes, he also collected 6 rebounds and 3 assists to provide Milan with a huge lift.

"For me, this is a big gift", Moraschini said post-game with a big smile. "Yesterday was my birthday and today is Olimpia Milano's birthday, so I am happy and I think the entire team is happy for this win."

While Moraschini gave Milan a huge lift in the first half, in the second it was recently-signed guard Keifer Sykes who took center stage.

Playing in only his second EuroLeague game, Sykes had 2 points to his tally when he entered the game with 4 minutes to go in the third quarter. But he sank a pair of triples in a key 11-0 run before the quarter ended, had a big defensive stop and pulled down an important offensive rebound during that span, before going on to score 9 more points in the fourth quarter and finishing with 17 points in just 16 minutes on the floor.

Moraschini and Sykes were part of a Milan bench that scored 53 points in this game, compared to 35 by their Panathinaikos counterparts. It proved to be key for Milan, which has now won three of its last four games, and that recent five-game losing streak suddenly seems like a distant memory.