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Zalgiris is coming to Milan, Messina: “We need to play defense as we did in the first part of the season”


There is not even the time to metabolize the first home defeat of the season, against Red Star, because for Olimpia it is already time to take the court again, on Friday 20 November against Zalgiris Kaunas. The Lithuanian team also lost the first game of the weekly double round at home, against CSKA Moscow. Olimpia officially reintegrated in the lineup Malcolm Delaney – missing since the first quarter of the home win over Real Madrid – and Kevin Punter – he made his EuroLeague seasonal debut – on top of Ricky Moraschini’s availability. They are added to Vlado Micov, who had already returned during the trip to Valencia. Zalgiris will not have the Argentinian forward Patricio Garino, due to injury, but they have already recovered the youngster Rokas Jokubaitis.

COACH ETTORE MESSINA“After losing at home, returning to the court is always difficult, especially because we have to face a fast and aggressive team like Zalgiris. Against the Red Star, we played a bad defensive game, but in the EuroLeague, if we want to win games, we have to go back to play defense. as we did in the first part of the season. The return of some players who were injured and the schedule uncertainties have undoubtedly affected our chemistry, but that cannot become an excuse. If anything, it has to be a reason to come together even more.”

ZACH LEDAY – “We need to take this game as a must-win game for us, it’s important and we need to be extremely focused on detail, learn the lessons experienced during the last game and get back on track, doing the things we know how to do.”

THE REFEREES – Emilio Perez (Spain), Saso Petek (Czech Rep.), Sergio Silva (Portugal).

ZALGIRIS – The Lithuanian champions have won the first four games of the season, three of which on the road, and five of the first six, but they come to Milan after three straight defeats, all against top-tier teams, Real Madrid, Maccabi and CSKA Moscow. Guard Marius Grigonis, who was named Player of the Month for October, is averaging 15.6 points per game, is shooting 50.0% from three with over four attempts per game, and so far he has been prefect, 33-for-33, from the line. Besides him, Thomas Walkup (7.7 points, 4.8 assists per game) and Steve Vasturia (46.2% from three) have always started. The two bigs of the most used starting five are Nigel Hayes (8.2 points per game) who also plays as a small forward and Joffrey Lauvergne (9.6 points, 4.9 rebounds per game). Off the bench are coming the point guard Lukas Lekavicius, who is shooting with 60.0% from three-point range, the very young talent Rokas Jokubaitis, the bomber Arturas Milaknis, one of the greatest specialists in history, the power forward Augustine Rubit (7.8 points, 69.0% from two) and the great veteran Paulius Jankunas, plus center Martin Geben.

THE ZALGIRIS CONNECTION – Zach LeDay last year won the Lithuanian title playing for Zalgiris. In all, he played 28 EuroLeague games and 24 Lithuanian league games. LeDay himself scored 19 points in Zalgiris’s victory over OIimpia in the Kaunas game.

NOTES – Vlado Micov has an open streak of nine double-digit games and with a made three. He has scored at least a three-pointer in 13 of his last 14 games played. Sergio Rodriguez has made at least one three in 17 of his last 18 appearances. Kevin Punter has scored a three in each of his last 13 EuroLeague games. Michael Roll is second in the league for three-point accuracy, converting 64.7 percent of his three.