The Italian Serie A Finals kicked off yesterday in Bologna, where the home team Virtus lost its home-court advantage against rivals Armani Milan.
In the first quarter, the two teams scored a total of just 23 points (10-13 for Milan). The low scoring continued throughout the game as both teams struggled in attack. While in the half time the lead for Milan was just one point, the visiting team started to take control of the game in the second half. Ettore Messina’s team never lost the lead in the second half and they even lead by 13 points in the 3rd quarter (32-45). Veteran Milos Teodosic scored some incredible baskets in the last quarter but it wasn’t enough for Virtus to complete the comeback and Milan won 66-62.
Shavon Shields can be considered the MVP of the game, as he finished the encounter as the top scorer and had a solid game overall (18 points and 6 rebounds). Kyle Hines also had a good contribution to the victory with 10 points and 10 rebounds in 29 minutes. For the losing side, Milos Teodosic was the best performer with 16 points and 6 assists.
Milan had just 10 assists the whole game (7 for Sergio Rodriguez) but dominated the battle for rebounds, 50-41. Also, both teams had a catastrophic night shooting three-pointers: Bologna had 22% with 5 from 22 behind the arc, while Milan was even worse, with a disastrous 13% (3 from 23). It’s worth noting that Gigi Datome was the only one who hit a three-pointer for Milan in the whole game.
Last year the same two teams met in the Final, but Milan looked completely exhausted after they also played in the EuroLeague Final Four and Virtus won 4-0. This time, Milan looks better and more motivated to win the championship. They will have to play the whole series without the injured Malcolm Delaney, but coach Ettore Messina has many quality players to replace him. While every betting site considered Virtus to be the favourite to win the title before the series started, Milan has the home-court advantage now and a better chance to become the Italian League champions.
Image credit: Olimpia Milano