Credit: Scanpix
Credit Scanpix

"That was one of the loudest and most hostile atmospheres in Milan," one Italian colleague smiled during the halftime of emotional AX Armani Exchange and Anadolu Efes Istanbul battle.

Player of the Game
Kyle  Hines
Kyle Hines
Points 8
Accuracy 2-6
Rebounds 6
Assists 3

Two technicals, including one for Ettore Messina and fans almost running on the floor to teach referees, made Mediolanum Forum a difficult place to enjoy a high-level basketball game.

It all started boiling up with two seconds in the game when Messina questioned the referee's decision to give the ball to Efes after the jump ball. Two quick fouls for Nicolo Melli and Malcolm Delaney forced Borys Ryzhyk to invite both coaches on the baseline to calm them down 90 seconds into the game.

Soon the situation went out of control. Messina went furious when Jerian Grant received a charging foul for hitting Vasilije Micic with his elbow. "That's bullshit! That's bullshit!" AX Armani's head coach has had enough of this. 

Soon he got a technical foul, although some courtside fans almost ran on the court to support their coach at the heated moment.

"Milano! Milano!" it was so loud that it felt like we were watching the game in La Scala.

AX Armani were down by 9 (23-32), but the scrutiny united the Italian team.

Delaney and Mitoglou made some critical plays and helped their team turn things around and build a six-point halftime lead (42-36). 

Questions over some calls didn't end even after halftime, although Armani was up by 10 in the third quarter. Even Malcolm Delaney had to calm down his coach not to get even in bigger trouble. But soon, Messina ran to his players, happily holding his fists. Gianmarco Pozzecco grabbed his face, hugged him, and let him go in the huddle.

A coach should have been pleased about the character his players showed in such an emotional game. Anadolu Efes tried to come back, but AX Armani saved their lead 75-71 and stayed one of two undefeated EuroLeague teams with 4-0.

2-pointers this season

Points made: 17,0
Accuracy: 54,0%
Place in standings: 15
Record max: 21
Record min: 14
Most made 2FGs: Shane Larkin

After the game, Messina clapped his fans for their support in a very sensitive moment for his team.

"Of course, an important win against the European champions. Very difficult game," Messina started the press conference. "They started with three bigs. Because of that there was no space on offense. Because of their size, we had a problem moving a ball, and it took a while to adjust."

"Also, early fouls of Chacho were a problem. You know how important he is for us. So we came a little bit short in terms of rotation. But those who played most (of them) played a very good game. We defended, we moved the ball well.

I'm very happy because Gigi (Luigi Datome) played some quality minutes making important shots. Malcolm had a complete game on both ends of the floor. With the injuries he had, it's important for us to see what he can give us.

The fans helped us pushing us in a crucial moment. 

I think the key was when even going down by 8-10, and we managed to finish up the first half. That was the key to the win. The third quarter was a very good quarter, and we got a little bit tired in the end. But it was a good game, a very important win. We keep working, and we move on to the next game," Messina added.

After his opening statement, Messina addressed some weird numbers.

"I have another comment for you. If you check the index ratio... We had 22 assists versus 15. Only nine turnovers versus 14. We were even in rebounds. And we shot better than them.

From three points, we were 42% vs. 30%. But we have the worst index rating because fouls were 22 to 10. Honestly, I've been doing this for 30+ years, but I've never seen something like that.

It's an interesting statistic. And we leave it like this? We'll see."

Asked about his team overcoming all these distractions, Messina didn't lose a great sense of humor.

"You mean the nice girls in the stands?" Messina interrupted the question with a smile on his face. "We were probably not the only ones who were looking at the girls during the game."

"But it was really encouraging to see that even if we had a lot of reasons to lose our mind, we kept our composure, we kept playing. We raised our intensity defensively, and we became sharper offensively, moving the ball more.

Instead of being nervous, we responded with the quality of these players and with the composure again. It's a big thing. With 34 games, there will be bad nights, bad weeks. But we need to stay together. Keep working and staying the course. It was an encouraging sign, yes," Messina concluded.

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Milano Armani Exchange
Stambulo Anadolu Efes
Field goals

Best players

Malcolm  Delaney
16 PTS
6/11 FG
2/3 FT
Vasilije  Micic
17 PTS
5/17 FG
5/5 FT
Konstantinos  Mitoglou
Shane  Larkin
AX Armani Exchange Milan
Few players
5 As
Vasilije  Micic
5 As
4 TO
36 MIN
Kyle  Hines
15 EFF
33% 2P%
- 3P%
Shane  Larkin
20 EFF
71% 2P%
0% 3P%