Italy’s Serie A finally has a new champion after EA7 Milan dethroned serial winners Montepaschi Siena at the top of the domestic game. Siena’s missed opportunity to clinch the finals series at home two days ago came back to haunt the defending champs as they fell 74-67 on the road. As for EA7 Milan, the Serie A success snaps Montepaschi’s admittedly phenomenal 8 season run as winners and caps a wonderful season for the club.
A hugely promising foray into the Euroleague this season suggested that Milan was on the cusp of Serie A success too, and so it proved. EA7 Milan came back from 6 points down after 30 minutes with the help of Siena’s ill-discipline, with the downed club committing 24 personal fouls and giving Milan easy points. The victory sparked celebration in Milan’s Mediolanum Forum as the club celebrated a 26th Serie A title.
EA7 Milan vs. Montepaschi Siena, 74-67
Nicolo Melli set the scoreboard ticking for Milan, securing the only basket of the first minute of play as the home team took a 2-0 lead. Samardo Samuels doubled Milan’s early advantage before Olympiacos bound Othello Hunter registered Montepaschi’s first basket (4-2). Over a two minute spell Milan shut out the away team with rebounds at both ends of the court, while the team stretched to 8-2 courtesy of Alessandro Gentile and Samuels. Josh Carter scored under the basket to push Siena, but Milan was controlling the early stages of the game and extended to 14-6 thanks to Gentile, Keith Langford, and Samuels. Marquez Haynes sent home the first triple of the game to ignite the small contingent of Montepaschi fans, but Milan kept calm through Melli and Langford to open a double-digit lead (19-9). No baskets through the last minute of the period meant that’s how the score remained.
The second quarter opened slow as the baskets dried up for nearly two minutes. Milan snapped the lock as Daniel Hackett streamed in from beyond the arc. Montepaschi Siena hit back with a 0-7 run to cut back to 22-16, but Gentile scored 100% from the charity strip (24-16). Gani Lawal at the post pushed Milan back to 10 points but Haynes kept the visitors in touch with a 2+1 play. It was a case of one step forward one step back for Siena as EA7 Milan kept coming up with vital plays, such as Langford hitting his own 2 plus foul (31-21). Haynes and Janning were keeping Montepaschi in the game as the away team took 5 of the next 6 points. David Moss and Jerrells Curtis scored for Milan, but Erik Green from downtown kept the defending champions close at 36-29 with halftime descending on the game.
Curtis poured in from distance to extend Milan’s lead back to 10 points and soon Gentile had stretched it to 12 points at 41-29. However, the hosts had been in total command throughout the game, but were not prepared for the Siena fight back, as the away team would clearly not let its title go easily. Montepaschi reeled off a stunning passage of play that saw them pour in 19 points while restricting Milan to just two points with mean perimeter and board defence. The torrent had given Siena its first lead of the game at 43-48 and while Gentile made it 45-48 for Milan, the away team was not finished. By the end of the third quarter the score was 48-54 and Montepaschi Siena had outscored the home team 12-25 to put another title back on track.
Erik Green scored two points to recommence scoring after over a minute of the fourth quarter, extending Siena’s lead to 48-56. Gentile went 2 from 2 at the foul line before Jeff Viggiano made it 50-58 for Montepaschi. The hosts scored the next four points before Green scored a double to make it 54-60, but it was Milan’s turn to go on a run. The home team secured a title winning 15-2 run to make the score 70-62 and all but win the Serie A title series. The visitors had been stunned and the teams traded baskets for the final minutes as the EA7 Milan fans celebrated.
Gentile paced Milan throughout with 18 vital points, while Melli took 11 points and 13 rebounds for the only double-double of the night.
Green set a scoring tone for Montepaschi Siena with 15 points, but the team also impressed with rebounds. Carter took 8 boards, Hunter had 10, and Janning had six off the glass.