Milan, Messina: "Nice series with full stadiums, we hope to play it to the fullest"

The twentieth playoff final in Olimpia’s history begins on Wednesday 8 May in Bologna in a city where this year he played five games with three wins, against three different teams. The series for the Scudetto is played in the best of seven games, the first two away. The same teams that arrived here a year ago face off, the first and second of the regular season, both with a record of 6-0 in the playoffs and 19-0 at home in the Italian championship. Olimpia has reached all the Italian finals this year, Virtus has skipped that of the Italian Cup. There are three previous seasons but one dates back to the September Super Cup and two different teams went to the field; the other two were heavily affected by absences. For example, in the last match in Bologna, Olimpia was without Rodriguez, Shields and Datome, Virtus was without Belinelli. Curiously throughout the season, Virtus had the best numbers in attack and Milan had them in defense. But in the playoffs the figures have changed a bit. Olimpia are scoring nearly 90 points per game and have grown in terms of shooting percentages from both two and three so that five out of six times they have scored at least 10 triples in a single match. Virtus shot well from three with its outsiders (Teodosic and Belinelli make almost 12 attempts per game) and relied internally on Mam Jaiteh and Toko Shengelia. The French international has always been effective in the three previous seasons. He scored 18 points in all three games. Meanwhile, Olimpia has played 78 competitive matches this season. Race 1 will be number 79.
NOTES – Race 1 will be played on Wednesday 8 May at 9 pm at the Segafredo Arena in Bologna. Same venue and same time as Race 2, Friday 10 May. All matches will be broadcast on Eurosport 2, Rai Sport, Discovery +. Race 3 and 4 will be played at the Mediolanum Forum on Sunday 12 and Tuesday 14 June at 20:30. Click here for tickets.

COACH ETTORE MESSINA – “It will be a balanced series, I hope difficult for both teams, a series that we hope to play well. I also think that with two full sports halls it can be a series that will do the good of Italian basketball, as an image, as an audience, as a follow-up. We are doing well physically, in the playoffs we had more time to prepare, we simplified a few things and we are doing them at a different pace which helped us to improve the attacking numbers. Regardless of the predictions, we know that expectations in Milan are always high, what is important is that the players enter the field knowing that if we do certain things well we will have more opportunities to win and otherwise we will have less ”.

GIGI DATOME – “I think it will be a very hard-fought final, I don’t know how much the home factor will affect it, I hope it’s not decisive, but like all my teammates I’m very excited to play this series. We have worked all year to get to the final, we are happy to have this opportunity. In the playoffs we had more time to prepare for matches and we were good at raising the pace a little in attack and performing with greater conviction ”.

SERGIO RODRIGUEZ – “We arrive at this final in a different situation than last year after a season in which we finished third in the EuroLeague, which was not easy considering the opponents, eliminated only by the European champions when we were in precarious conditions due to injuries. They are a bit different too and have made two major additions with Hackett and Shengelia. We have each found our role, we are ready and now we try to play two good games in Bologna before receiving the support of our fans in the next two “.
THE REFEREES OF MATCH 1 – Boris Ryzhyk, Roberto Begnis. Tolga Sahin.

SO THIS YEAR – Curiously, only seven players with relevant average playing time have played in all three previous seasons. Three are from Olimpia: Nicolò Melli (10.3 points and 6.7 rebounds per game), Devon Hall (12.7 points per game) and Kyle Hines (9.0 points, 4.7 rebounds). The four from Bologna are Jaiteh, Pajola, Weems and Teodosic. Virtus won the Super Cup 90-84; Olimpia won the January match 102-99; the last match was won again by Bologna, 84-65.

THE VIRTUS CONNECTION – Giampaolo Ricci played for Virtus Bologna for two years, winning the 2021 Scudetto. Awudu Abass (injured) played for two years in Milan, from 2017 to 2019, winning the 2018 Scudetto and twice the Super Cup. Daniel Hackett played in Milan for two seasons, winning the 2014 Scudetto. Milos Teodosic played at CSKA Moscow coached by Ettore Messina. Among his teammates was also Kyle Hines. Marco Belinelli was coached by Messina – as an assistant – at the San Antonio Spurs and – as head coach – in the national team. Ettore Messina has coached in the Virtus youth teams since the 1983/84 season when he was also Alberto Bucci’s assistant and as such he won the championship by beating Olimpia in the final. He became head coach in the 1989/90 season remaining there until the 1992/93 season inclusive, except to return in 1997 and remain there again until 2002. In these two periods he won the EuroLeague twice (in 1998 and 2001), once the Cup Winners’ Cup (1990), the Scudetto three times (1993, 1998 and 2001), the Italian Cup three times. Virtus Bologna coach Sergio Scariolo coached Olimpia in 2011-2013. As coach of the Spanish national team he led Sergio Rodriguez.

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