Milan blasts Buducnost with record scoring performance
AX Armani Exchange Emporio Milan set a new club scoring record in a 111-94 rout of Buducnost VOLI Podgorica on Thursday night at Mediolanum Forum. Milan never trailed and set club records for points after one quarter (36) and in a half (56) en route to a lopsided win that took its record to 8-8. Vladimir Micov led the attack with 20 points, Mindaugas Kuzminskas netted 19, Mike James produced 17 points and 8 assists, Dairis Bertans added 17 on 5-of-6 three-point shooting and Arturas Gudaitis posted 14 points, 12 rebounds and 3 blocks. Teenager Goga Bitadze shined with 23 points, 8 boards and 3 blocks for Buducnost, which saw its record slide to 3-13. Norris Cole compiled 17 points and 6 assists, Earl Clark scored 16 and Petar Popovic 12 in defeat.
Kaleb Tarczewski, in his last appearance before undergoing surgery on his thumb, opened the scoring with an alley-oop dunk courtesy of a James assist. Clark got Buducnost on the scoreboard, but then Milan reeled off 13 straight points, with Kuzminskas, James and Bertans each knocking down three-pointers. Cole and Bitadze tried to get the visitors going, however, a Kuzminskas dunk on the break made it 21-6 after 5 minutes. Kuzminskas was hot from behind the arc with a trio of triples – all via James assists – as the lead grew to 33-15. Coty Clark free throws ended the first quarter with the hosts in charge 36-22. Bitadze scored the first two baskets of the second quarter, but soon Gudaitis took over for Milan in the paint and kept the hosts cruising. Cole scored 7 points over three possessions to keep Buducnost in the hunt before Milan called timeout at 44-33. James Bell nailed a triple to shave the deficit to single digits, 45-36, however, Gudaitis answered with 4 points. Bell corrected his own miss in the final minute of the half to again get Buducnost within 9, but James's floater made it 56-45 at the break. Little changed at the start of the second half as Milan continued scoring at a record pace and Bitadze continued dominating in the paint with the help of Cole. Kuzminskas's basket-plus-foul was followed by Bertans's fourth three-pointer, which made it 71-54 and resulted in a Buducnost timeout. Christian Burns took the margin to 18 with free throws before Popovic split free throws to make it 82-66 through three quarters. Buducnost clawed its way to within 10, however, Curtis Jerrells knocked down a three and Gudaitis scored from the line to keep Milan rolling. Clark again drew the visitors to within 10, but James responded with a three-point play and the hosts held on the rest of the way.
A few almost-records
Milan not only set a club scoring record, which had been 105 against Anadolu Efes Istanbul in November 2016, but its total performance index rating of 126 was the second highest in club history and its 16 three-pointers tied for third most. Dairis Bertans set a personal best with 5 three-pointers and Mindaugas Kuzminskas tied his best with 4.
Milan took the game by storm in the first quarter through Mike James and Mindaugas Kuzminskas to lead by 14 after 10 minutes. James had 10 points and 6 assists in that period; 4 of those dimes resulted in Kuzminskas triples. Kuzminskas did not miss from downtown in amassing 14 points in the quarter. Milan was 7 for 10 from downtown and made 6 of 9 shots inside the arc in racing to a 36-22 start. Buducnost made only 1 three in the first quarter.
A Rising Star soars
If anyone thought Goga Bitadze's spectacular debut in Round 15 was beginner's luck, the teenage center showed off his skill set again with a monster performance off the bench. Bitadze had a monster game with 23 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks in 27 minutes, many of which came against Arturas Gudaitis, who is among the league leaders in PIR. Just two games into his EuroLeague career, Bitadze is already making a strong case for Rising Star Award consideration.
Buducnost starts January's two-round week with a trip to Tel Aviv to face Maccabi on Wednesday, while Milan stays home for a date with FC Barcelona Lassa.
Thursday, January 3, 2019