Olimpia Milano escaped Athens with a huge road win over Panathinaikos OPAP (78-79), the fifth in a row for the “Red Shoes” on Greek soil, taking both the “Pavlos Giannakopoulos Tournament” and last year’s results vs the “Greens” and Olympiacos Piraeus into account.
The versatile Michael Roll was one of the standouts for Ettore Messina’s and Luis Scola’s side, since he posted 16 points on 4/7 beyond the three-point arc. The US-born guard, who recently participated in the FIBA World Cup in China with the Tunisian NT, averaged 9.1 points and 2.7 assists in 29 EuroLeague appearances last season with Maccabi Tel Aviv in his second and final year in Israel. In addition, the 32-year-old starred in a controversial play in the Milan-Zalgiris game, which was followed by a statement of EuroLeague Basketball acknowledging that two traveling and one backcourt violation actually took place just 14 seconds before the final buzzer.
Roll was the last man to come out of his team’s locker room at OAKA. That’s where TalkBasket.net had the chance for a quick chat with him on Milan, Ettore Messina and his unfruitful summer “flirt” with Panathinaikos.
Q: What gave the win to Olimpia Milano?
A: I think we did an excellent job, sticking to the game plan. Obviously, this is a very tough place to play. Panathinaikos are a great team and have an amazing fan support. However, basketball is a game of runs. They made some and we were able to answer. It came down to the last ball.
Q: How are things for your team so far?
A: So far, good. We’re learning and trying to improve every day. We have a bunch of new players and staff.
Q: How about yourself? Have you grown accustomed to the new environment?
A: I’m happy. I really like Milan and my teammates so far. It’s a great, but it’s also a much different environment than Tel Aviv. Apart from being much colder, the system is different. I’m not saying that everything else in my past has been good as well.
Q: Which are the demands of coach Messina?
A: He’s got a lot of them and rightfully so. If we can stick to them, we’ll be fine. One of them is to be aggressive. It’s the first priority on the defensive end.
Q: What’s your view on this season’s EuroLeague?
A: It’s going to be tough. Everyone is able to win in any place and in any game. So, we got to come out and fight every day.
Q: How was the World Cup for you?
A: It was awesome! I had an amazing experience. I felt a little bit sour at the end, but I had a great time.
Q: Was there any chance of you signing with Panathinaikos OPAP in the summer?
A: Yes, absolutely. We had very close talks, it came down to the end and that was it. Something broke at the last second. That’s how it goes sometimes.
Q: Did you talk with anyone on the Greek team?
A: Yeah, I’m still friends with DT (Deshaun Thomas). I was talking to him about the whole situation and obviously my agents were handling the negotiations with the management staff. It was very close.
Q: So, what or who attracted you to Olimpia?
A: Coach Messina because he’s a beautiful basketball mind and I wanted to learn from him.