Nicolò Melli grabbed an offensive rebound, got fouled and made his free throws with 11 seconds left to put Olimpia ahead for good over Panathinaikos. The 78-76 score at that point became final, because on the last possession, after a time-out, Stefano Tonut held his own against Dwyane Bacon, forced him to take a difficult shot that was way out. Despite the two-point margin, Olimpia led most of the night, never trailed after the first possession of the second quarter, built several times a eight-point lead. However, Panathinaikos kept coming back, managed to stay close and finally tied the game up after a 6-0 run late in the game, with a Paris Lee huge three-pointer. Olimpia kept its poise and finished the job. “We had some good moments throughout the game, especially when we used more shooters and opened up the floor a little. We complicated our lives because of some bad defensive possessions in the fourth quarter, and then Melli’s free throws and Tonut defense won the game for us,” Coach Ettore Messina pointed out.
It wasn’t an easy night because early in the game Gigi Datome got injured (left ankle) and had to leave the game. Luwawu-Cabarrot was plagued by foul troubles all night long and the rotation became smaller, considering the obvious absences of Shavon Shields, Kevin Pangos and Devin Hall. Olimpia was able to win the rebounding battle for once. “With Melli and Voigtmann together we spaced the floor a little better. If Johannes can keep up defensively and grab rebounds, we are spaced better offensively”, Messina added. Shabazz Napier scored 16 points and had five assists, Brandon Davies scored 16 points in 17 minutes off the bench. “I think Davies was effective taking position in the low post. Sometimes, after four of five possessions he got tired and starts settling for different plays. We need to do a bwtter job of understanding when taking him out to get him back later,” Messina said.
For Olimpia it was the third straight EuroLeague wins. Stefano Tonut scored all his 11 points in the first half, attacking the closeouts. Nicolò Melli had a 14-point night. he scored seven in a row early in the game, made a huge three in the fourth quarter and closed the game off with his 11 free throws. “We never got to the line and probably we deserved to take more foul shots – Messina said – it is what is, I think it was a good win and move from there.”