Euroleague Round 10 saw Zalgiris Kaunas hungry for the win in a hustle game against AX Armani Exchange.
The Lithuanian squad, carried by his pivotal leader Brandon Davies with 27 points, found a win despite the absence of Paulius Jankunas. Milano, deprived by Nemanja Nedovic, hardly matched the rhythm imposed by the Lithuanians. Nonetheless, James managed to score 17 points and Arthuras Gudaitis had 16 points.
In the first quarter, Olimpia approached the game quite well, with a good block by Kaleb Tarcewzski on Brandon Davies and a three-point jump-shot hit by Jeff Brooks for the 3-0 lead. Zalgiris Kaunas reacted quickly with an aggressive defence, Nate Wolters deflected a pass in transition and dished the assist for the 6-5. Brandon Davies soon became dominant in the paint and, served painstakingly by Wolters, slammed over Tarczewski. Gudaitis called on duty by Milano responded with an easy lay-up and a step-back by James over Marius Grigonis brought back Milan to the 16-21 lead.
In the second quarter, Milano suffered the Zalgiris’ full-court press. Mindaugas Kuzminskas, galvanized by his public, made an impressive reverse-dunk after a swift penetration. Immediately, head coach Sarunas Jasikevicius pushed his team forward and Leo Westermann served a magical alley-hoop for Aaron White for the 26-29. The aggressive defence displayed by Zalgiris and the offensive in-bounds seriously troubled Milan. AX Exchange literally panicked in transition and struggled to find easy buckets. Davies nearly had his hands in every single Zalgiris point. In the end of the second quarter, a triple hit by Wolters helped his team find confidence from beyond the arc for the 36-29.
The second half saw Gudaitis ignite his team by battling in low-post against Davies. Jeff Brooks bounced an assist again for the Lithuanian, cutting the deficit to five, 41-36. Davies already scored 15 points and found easy buckets from the mid-range keeping + 10 over Milan. Mike James hit another pull-up shot for the 45-37. Milano struggled to have a reaction, the squad didn’t seem in good shape due to the lack of turnovers. But, all of a sudden, Milano found confidence from long range shot: Bertans hit two consecutive triples for the 53-52. Davies, by the way, took advantage of several pick-and-roll plays, bringing back 58-54.
In the fourth quarter, Zalgiris was back on top with an immediate triple by Wolters for the +7. Another jumper hit by Davies meant a season-high 24 points. But, Milano found the energy to react: Mike James stole from Aaron White and in the fast-break dished an assist for Kuzminskas for the 69-66. Wolters, later on, sorted out the screen and hit the 71-68 lead. Finally, Micov down the stretch made a three-point despite a bad pass by Jerrells. Again Micov drove down the lane for the 75-73. But, the game slipped away, because Milano missed the decisive shot with 1 minute to go and Wolters ended the game with a jump-shot (83-78).