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Coach Messina: “Cohesion, team defense and rebounds are the keys to compete in Athens”


Olimpia is on the road again. It’s the second EuroLeague triple (tip-off at 8.30 pm Italian time, on Thursday 17 October), in Athens, in the huge OAKA sports hall, against Panathinaikos. Both teams are 1-1, with home court always respected up to this moment. Olimpia comes from the win over Zalgiris; Panathinaikos lost in Lyon with Asvel Villeurbanne. Compared to last year there are six new players in Panathinaikos, just like in Olimpia, which however is still dealing with heavy absences. It is a gret matchup, for the history of the two clubs, the presence of two point-guards who made the history of European basketball, Nick Calathes on one side and Sergio Rodriguez on the other. In Panathinaikos there are also three NBA’s first round picks (Wesley Johnson, Jimmer Fredette, Georgios Papagiannis).

OLIMPIA – No news in Olimpia, which after the league game with Brindisi prepared the trip to Athens at its home, at the Mediolanum Forum, and left with a charter flight on Wednesday afternoon. Arturas Gudaitis has practiced regularly with the team, but has not joined it for the trip. Nemanja Nedovic and Shelvin Mack are not available.

COACH ETTORE MESSINA – “Panathinaikos is a deep team and they play with a lot of energy. Surely, Nick Calathes will test our pick and roll defense. Cohesion, team defense and rebounds are going to be crucial, in order to have the chance to win a tough road game against a great and well coached team”.

THE OPPONENT – Panathinaikos is 1-1 in EuroLeague, after losing in Lyon against Asvel. The coach is Argyris Pedoulakis, at his third experience on the “Greens” bench. The hottest player is the left-handed forward DeShaun Thomas, 20.0 points and 8.5 rebounds per game so far, 15 games in double figures of the last 16. The leader is obviously Nick Calathes, 112 consecutive EuroLeague starts, who led the league in assists and steals last season. He’s averaging 17.0 points and 7.5 assists per game. Panathinaikos also signed Tyrese Rice, who was the MVP of the 2014 Final Four that he won with Maccabi, Jimmer Fredette, a former first round pick from Brigham Young, a scorer, who’s averaging 14.5 per game, and Wesley Johnson, a small forward with nine years of NBA experience behind him, the number 4 pick in the 2010 draft. Panathinaikos is also very deep, athletic with the addition of Ben bentil and Jacob Wiley and has a very solid local players group, led by the veteran Nik Pappas and the 2.20 center Georgios Papagiannis.

MISCELLANEA – Panathinaikos center Ian Vougioukas was a teammate of Vlado Micov at Galatasaray for part of the 2014-15 season. Amedeo Della Valle and Panathinaikos forward DeShaun Thomas were college teammates at the Ohio State University. Andrea Cinciarini posted career highs of 20 personal index rating and 8 rebounds for Olimpia against Panathinaikos in March 2017. The last time Olimpia visited Panathinaikos, in December 2018, Milan center Arturas Gudaitis matched his career-high in scoring with 20 points in a 83-86 road win. Sergio Rodriguez has made his last 13 free throws. He needs one steal to reach 200 for his career and is 43 points shy of reaching 2,500. Rodriguez has also moved into a seventh place tie with Jaka Lakovic with 381 three-point shots made. Rudy Fernandez of Real Madrid is sixth with 403 and counting. Luis Scola is 27th with 820 career rebounds. He can pass Jorge Garbajosa (26th, 821) this week.