Credit: Reuters – Scanpix
Credit Reuters – Scanpix

AX Armani Exchange Milan head coach Ettore Messina had no idea Kyle Hines doubts about his future. But as soon as he heard his veteran not ruling out the retirement after this season, his reaction was rapid and simple.

Player of the Game
Konstantinos  Mitoglou
EFF
20
Konstantinos Mitoglou
Points 16
Accuracy 6-9
Rebounds 6
Assists 1

"I sent him a text last night, and my text was very simple: 'Let's not joke.' He got my text," Messina smiled after a third consecutive EuroLeague victory against Maccabi Tel Aviv 83-72.

In a recent interview with EuroHoops, Hines revealed that this might be the last season of his career.

"I'm not sure. There are not too many 35-36 years old American players around still playing at this level. I hope it won't happen, but the reality is that there aren't too many players in my age range that are still playing at EuroLeague level. I'd still love to play, but I'm going to approach this season as it is, trying to enjoy every moment and see what's going to happen at the end", Hines told on the EurohooPOD.

Messina didn't have any idea about Hines' intentions. But he believes that despite his age, a 35-year-old center still has many years left in his tank.

"I see him every day. His enthusiasm, his knowledge of the game, including his physicality is still there. He will go as long as he wants," Messina told BasketNews. "He knows we love him a lot. He's an idol for these fans."

Numbers also show that Hines belongs in the EuroLeague. He averaged 9 points, 4.7 rebounds, and one assist, helping his team win all three games.

"At the right time, we'll see, and I'll talk to him. Actually, I talk to him every day. I'm basically tired of talking to him," Messina joked in the press conference.

It was AX Armani players who made him smile with a solid presence against Maccabi.

Messina ran towards his players on the sidelines in the second quarter, holding his fists happily and encouraging his players with a tremendous defensive effort. Twenty-four seconds weren't enough for Maccabi to beat AX Armani's defense again.

The yellows were stuck on offense, thanks to the defensive effort of Messina warriors. For example, Maccabi backcourt players, including Scottie Wilbekin, had only 2 points on 0 of 10 shooting in the first half. Wilbekin dropped 28 points in the EuroLeague season opener two weeks ago, but he finished with 8 points (FG 2/11) and four assists in 26 minutes at Mediolanum Forum.

"I think Malcolm Delaney played a great defensive game on their most important player, with the help of his teammates, of course. But it was a huge performance," Messina said.

With 6:35 to play in the second quarter, Milan already had a 19-point lead 40-21. Maccabi tried to come back at the end of the fourth quarter, but that was generally a one-sided game. Olimpia outsmarted and outhustled Maccabi from the jump ball.

"It's an important win in a night where results show how difficult it is to win in the EuroLeague," Messina said in the press conference. "We had a very good first half, and then we came out a little flat in the second. This year, it was the first time we had such a big lead in such an important game, and we didn't handle it well enough. But I think our defense kept us there. Every time we kept moving the ball, we found a good shot. I'm very happy for Dinos Mitoglou (16 points, six rebounds) stepping up and showing his potential. We keep working, and 48 hours later, we'll play another important game."

AX Armani will host EuroLeague champions Anadolu Efes Istanbul on Friday.

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Milano Armani Exchange
Tel Avivo Maccabi
47%
28/59
Field goals
45%
27/60
35
Rebounds
29
19
Assists
20
3
Steals
5
59%
17/29
2-pointers
54%
19/35
70%
16/23
Free throws
71%
10/14

Best players

Devon  Hall
17 PTS
5/12 FG
4/5 FT
Derrick  Williams
19 PTS
7/10 FG
1/1 FT
Konstantinos  Mitoglou
6 REB
4 DREB
2 OREB
James  Nunnally
7 REB
7 DREB
0 OREB
Sergio  Rodriguez
6 As
1 TO
19 MIN
James  Nunnally
5 As
3 TO
34 MIN
Konstantinos  Mitoglou
20 EFF
67% 2P%
67% 3P%
James  Nunnally
20 EFF
80% 2P%
17% 3P%