Last night in Mediolanum Forum, Armani Milan escaped with a narrow win (73-72) against the Euroleague newcomer Zenit Sankt-Petersburg. They had only 10 assists the whole game compared with the visitors who managed to get exactly double at this chapter, moving excellent the ball and finding the open shot, including in the last second of the game, when they scored a three-pointer.
The main problem of the Italian team was the absence of Shelvin Mack and Nemanja Nedovic. In these circumstances, the only true guard remaining was Sergio Rodriguez, helped from the bench by the last acquisition of Armani Milan, Keifer Sykes. At his debut game with his new team, Sykes disappointed a lot, finishing with 7 points, 0 assists, 5 turnovers and a negative -4 index rate in 15 minutes on the court. I am sure he can do better, after a couple of games together with the squad, but at the moment he couldn’t manage the Euroleague level.
Watching the game I clearly saw what was missing for the Italian side. A true leader, a combo guard, extremely quick and able to take the ball in the hardest moment of the game. To play one-on-one, scoring with the facility, breaking the defense and creating space for his teammates. Exactly how Mike James is. He was in Milan and stupidly removed from the squad in the summer. The 3 best scorer and the second at efficiency in the entire Euroleague, was not good enough for Ettore Messina. Together with Sergio Rodriguez, they could build some of the most scaring backcourts in Europe. I am sure if he would have been on the court last night against Zenit, not just that he would have scored 25 points, but as well Michael Roll, Sergio Rodriguez and the rest of the team would have scored much more, having an easy game.
Instead of this, Milan won the game only by luck, beneficiating also by the missing of Zenit’s American guard Alex Renfroe, one of the Euroleague leaders on assists (with almost 5 per game). With him on the court, things would have been even more complicated and maybe another loss for the most expensive Italian team.