Undefeated Armani Milan will host a struggling Anadolu Efes Istanbul today at the Mediolanum Forum. If we just look at the standings we could say that Milan will surely win, however, Efes can wake up at any moment and in my opinion, this is the best game of Round 4 in the EuroLeague.
Milan changed almost half its roster in the summer. Key players from last season such as scoring machine Kevin Punter, Zach LeDay, Vlado Micov, Michael Roll, Jeff Brooks or captain Andrea Cinciarini left and many fans around Europe wondered if Ettore Messina and the other members of the management can find the right replacements. Of course, the club has a very good financial situation and they managed to sign Nicolo Melli, who came back to Europe after two years playing in the NBA for the New Orleans Pelicans and Dallas Mavericks. Melli knows Milan very well, as he previously played five seasons between 2010 and 2015 in the fashion capital. However, the other signings can be categorized as more risky ones. Konstantinos Mitoglou only played in the NCAA outside of Greece, but at least he has EuroLeague experience with Panathinaikos. Jerian Grant, Devon Hall, Troy Daniels and Davide Alviti are all great players (the first three players in the NBA), but they are all EuroLeague rookies.
The doubts before the season were understandable, however, so far Armani Milan looks as good as last year. The ‘’Little Red Shoes’’ did lose the Italian Supercup final against Virtus Bologna, but they bounced back and won every game so far both in the EuroLeague and Serie A. After some disappointing seasons when the team underperformed in the EuroLeague, Milan reached the Final4 last season and was only one shot away from reaching the final. While it won’t be an easy task at all for coach Messina, Milan fans have reasons to hope that the team will at least repeat last season’s performance.
Efes arrives in Milan with a 0-3 record, but I wouldn’t press the panic button yet, especially as we are talking about Efes. Last season they had a slow start as well, losing 3 or their first 4 games of the season. In mid-December, their record was 7-8, but they eventually finished with 22-12 and they went on to win the EuroLeague. Ergin Ataman has ( almost ) the same players as last year and I would be surprised if they don’t reach the Final4 again.
As I mentioned at the beginning, I think this is the game of the round. I expect Efes to play much better tonight as they did so far this season and Milan will try to prove that they are an elite team that can beat anyone in Europe.
Image credit: EuroLeague