Basketball

Datome’s star shone the brightest

AX Armani Alternate Milan’s assembly with FC Barcelona on Thursday evening – which might determine the identification of the staff in first place atop the Turkish Airways EuroLeague standings – was packed stuffed with big-name stars.

The guests got here armed with, amongst others, October’s MVP Nikola Mirotic, single-season assists report holder Nick Calathes and two-time champ Cory Higgins, who had struck a nerveless game-winner when the groups final met in Might’s semifinal. The hosts in the meantime have been loaded with a roster together with four-time champion Kyle Hines, former EuroLeague MVP Sergio Rodriguez and an All-EuroLeague choice from final season, Shavon Shields.

Though Higgins had a uncommon off-night, the others all delivered huge moments. Mirotic led a powerful begin to the second half from Barca and Calathes posted 9 factors, 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Hines hit solely the second three-pointer of his EuroLeague profession (the opposite one, weirdly sufficient, additionally got here towards Barca) and made a brutal block on Nigel Hayes-Davis. Rodriguez dished a pleasant no-look help to Dinos Mitoglou and scored a vital step-back jumper within the final minute, shortly after Shields had made a significant late three.

In the long run, although, one star shone brighter than all of them: Gigi Datome.

In the beginning of the month which is able to see him flip 34 years outdated, Datome led all scorers with 17 factors, making 4 of 8 subject targets and seven of 8 photographs from the foul line. He additionally grabbed 2 rebounds, made a steal and drew 4 fouls, sufficient for a game-high PIR of 16. It was additionally the very best level tally and PIR of the season for the previous title winner with Fenerbahce Istanbul, and his second-best scoring evening since becoming a member of Milan at the beginning of final season.

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Along with the pure numbers, although, Datome’s contributions have been much more significant as a result of they got here at key moments within the recreation. His first basket got here throughout an opening-quarter surge which noticed Milan declare its first sizeable lead; then he netted twice within the house of 62 seconds to ship his staff up by 12 on the finish of the third quarter.

That was not sufficient to seal the win as Barca battled again within the fourth quarter with a 0-14 run to go forward for the primary time all evening, however Datome stepped up once more. First, he made a key steal, permitting Shields to hit a triple for a 67-65 lead inside the ultimate 3 minutes. Then, after Barca missed on its subsequent possession, Datome discovered his favourite spot within the nook, acquired a move from Hines and sank a three-pointer which grew to become a four-point play after contact from Higgins.

With lower than two minutes to play, Barca by no means actually had the prospect to recuperate from that 6-point Datome-inflicted deficit and the Mediolanum Discussion board followers have been in a position to have a good time their groups’ seventh victory of the season in a real table-topping conflict. And the message was clear: once you’re speaking concerning the EuroLeague’s most tried and trusted performers, don’t overlook about Gigi.

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