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Olimpia returns to play in the EuroLeague, Messina: “Valencia is fast and aggressive, we have Micov back”


Olimpia and Valencia history consists of just six games, but in truth there’s already a lot of stuff to be mentioned. From the Biella “play-off” loss in 2011 under Rafa Martinez’s missiles to Curtis Jerrells’ monstrous debut in 2017 (30 points and a comeback overtime win), from Vlado Micov’s career high of 27 points in a 2018 losing effort, up to the walk-off three made by Vlado Micov last March. Olimpia is 3-0 against Valencia, in Valencia, and their last two wins came after an extra time. This game (scheduled to be played on Friday 6 November at 9 pm) comes at a very critical time: Olimpia has not played in the EuroLeague in two weeks and is anchored to a 3-1 record; Valencia just lost in Moscow and it’s 3-2. In the league, Olimpia is unbeaten – 6-0 – while Valencia has just lost its first game to Real Madrid.

OLIMPIA – A real tour de force begins. After Valencia, Olimpia will have two consecutive games in Russia (Zenit and Khimki) and then two more during the same week in Milan (Red Star and Zalgiris) for a total of eight games in 17 days counting the Italian league. Olimpia in this EuroLeague has not yet been able to feature Kevin Punter yet, and he was the preseason leading scorer and MVP of the Kaunas tournament, but it is true that Michael Roll will take the court in Spain (where he played with Zaragoza and Vitoria) with a spectacular 7-for-9 from three-point range. On the other hand, Vlado Micov returns to expand the perimeter player rotation, which is much more important since also Malcolm Delaney and Riccardo Moraschini will be missed.

COACH ETTORE MESSINA – “We return to play a EuroLeague game after three weeks, and that’s good for everybody. We’ll miss Punter, Delaney and Moraschini and this will have an impact on us, because Valencia is a very aggressive defensive team and they can establish a high pace to the game. We’ll have Vlado Micov back and for us he’s a very important player. His smartness will allow us to expand the rotation.”

MICHAEL ROLL – “It’s going to be a very fun, high-paced game, because Valencia likes to play fast and have a lot of talent on the court. We are looking forward to the challenge of getting back on the court after a two-week EuroLeague stop. I think we’ll be ready to compete”.

REFEREES – Christos Christodoulou (Greece), Damir Javor (Croatia), Robert Lottermoser (Germany).

VALENCIA – The franchise player in Valencia is Bojan Dubljevic, a Montenegrin who is in his tenth season with the team, a 13.6-point per game center who is shooting 47.6 percent from three. In his first year in Valencia, Nikola Kalinic, the Serbian international who comes from Fenerbahce, is averaging 11.6 points per game. Other established players came in the summer such as Derrick Williams from Fenerbahce (7.4 points and 4.0 rebounds per game), the Icelandic combo-guard Martin Hermannsson from Alba and the shooting specialist Klemen Prepelic from Badalona. Joan Sastre (injured), Guillem Vives, Fernando San Emeterio, and Belgian bomber Sam Van Rossom remain from the historic core. With them there are also Vanja Marinkovic (8.7 points, 37.5% from three, but he sould be sidelined by a shoulder injury) and the French leaper Luis Labeirye (7.6 points, 5.2 rebounds, who is shooting very well even from three).

THE VALENCIA CONNECTION – Sam Van Rossom played in Italy in Pesaro, but on loan from Olimpia for which he never played. Gigi Datome played at Fenerbahce with Nikola Kalinic and, limited to the last season, with Derrick Williams. Vlado Micov played alongside Fernando San Emeterio in Vitoria. Shavon Shields won the Liga ACB championship playing for Vitoria last July, here in Valencia.

NOTES – Sergio Rodriguez in the EuroLeague has a streak of 17 games with at least one three made. Gigi Datome has an open streak of 20 free throws made.

CHACHO SUPERSTAR – The 37 points of index rating in the game against Real Madrid are a career-high for Sergio Rodriguez and the second ever performance of a Olimpia player after Samardo Samuels’s 47 against Nizhny Novgorod, during the 2014/15 season. Mike James also boasts a 37 PIR that was tied by Rodriguez, but in a loss in Madrid.

CHACHO SUPERSTAR PART II – The 25 points scored against Real Madrid represents Sergio Rodriguez’s second ever performance in terms of scoring after the 26 scored with CSKA Moscow against Khimki in 2018.