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Olimpia is in Tel Aviv, Coach Messina: “Defense, details and shooting percentages will be the keys”

15/01/2020
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From one road game to another. Olimpia left Istanbul to move to Tel Aviv, where on Thursday night inside the Menora Mivtachim Arena, one of the most iconic buildings in the European basketball history, will face one of the hottest team in the EuroLeague. Maccabi’s won seven of its last nine games, climbed in the third place after defeating Barcelona at home and lately has added a couple of players (Aaron Jackson and Jalen Reynolds) on top of recovering Nate Wolters. The team’s star is Scottie Wilbekin, who’s averaging 16.3 points per game and who’s shooting 45.9% from three-point range, but he can count on many more shooters, starting with Elijah Bryant and Tyler Dorsey, both over 42% from three. Maccabi is also a very physical team, with the interior presence of Othello Hunter and Quincy Acy.

OLIMPIA – It’s coming from the Istanbul loss, where it was able to keep the game close for about 18 minutes, then it had more chances early in the third that couldn’t use, and finally lost by 20 when the game was in the book and everybody had his runs. Obviously, Riccardo Moraschini and Jeff Brooks, not with the team, won’t be available.

COACH ETTORE MESSINA – “We face another physical and aggressive team, so defense, attention to the smallest details and shooting percentages will be the key factor of our game. Tel Aviv is an historically difficult place, so we will have to be ready to play a tough game.”

MICHAEL ROLL – “I’m looking forward to going back to Tel Aviv. It’s a very special place for me and my family. I’m really excited to play in that atmosphere. The fans emotional participation will represent the fun part of this very difficult game”.

WHEN THEY MET… – Olimpia won the previous encounter 92-88, with five players scoring in double figures, led by Luis Scola’s 20 points and Sergio Rodriguez’s 18 points and 11 assists. Milan built a 10-point lead in the third that Maccabi managed to erase and take briefly a lead. Nemanja Nedovic responded with two straight threes. Olimpia pushed Maccabi back late in the game when Wilbekin launched his last assault.

THE OPPONENT – Maccabi is unbeaten at home, 9-0. The home court advantage is huge in Tel Aviv. The win over Barcelona by seven points was the closest until now. Seven times, Maccabi won by a double-digit margin. Coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos has changed the starting lineup several times. The only one starting every game is Scottie Wilbekin. Nate Wolters got the nod alongside him before the injury. Lately, Elijah Bryant has started. Tyler Dorsey is the scorer off the bench and Aaron Jackson is the latest, experienced, addition. Yovel Zoosman is normally the starting small forward. At the power forward, Quincy Acy has started lately: he’s a very physical player with a relevant NBA experience. Othello Hunter is starting at the center spot: he’s a proven EuroLeague winner. Jalen Reynolds is another late addition to fortify the position, but Maccabi is also very deep, with Deni Avdija, Jake Cohen, a shooting big man, and Angelo Caloiaro.

THE HISTORY – Milan defeated Maccabi in the continental championship games in back-to-back years in 1987 and 1988. Coach Dan Peterson’s Tracer Olimpia Milano edged Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv 71-69 in Lausanne in 1987 behind 23 points from Roberto Premier and 21 plus 9 rebounds from Bob McAdoo. A year later, the Final Four era was introduced with Coach Franco Casalini’s Milan beating Maccabi 90-84 in Ghent, Belgium, thanks to 25 points and 12 boards from McAdoo. In the 2014 playoffs, Maccabi beat Milan 3-1 in a best-of-five series en route to capturing the EuroLeague title at the Final Four in Milan