The Playoffs of Italy’s premier basketball league are underway and both EA7 Emporio Armani Milano and Banco di Sardegna Sassari opened the Quarterfinals with wins. EA7 Armani, the league’s regular season top finisher, cruised to a 73-59 victory over eighth seeded Giorgio Tesi Group Pistoia. In the other game, Sassari (4th) edged out Enel Basket Brindisi (5th) 75-73.
EA7 Emporio Armani Milano vs. Giorgio Tesi Group Pistoia, 73-59
The heavily favored team from Milan employed a good defensive effort to almost completely shut down Pistoia’s perimeter offense, limiting them to 1-11 shooting from three-point range. EA7 Armani also finished the game with nine steals versus Giorgio Tesi’s three, which allowed them extra scoring opportunities in transition as well. Milano started off with 20-14 first quarter advantage. Nicolo Melli caught fire and scored nine points in the first period. Pistoia’s Brad Wannamaker answered back with seven points of his own. The home team stifled the reserve unit of Giorgio Tesi Group and kept control of the game with 35-28 lead heading into halftime.
Pistoia rallied in the third frame with Deron Washington leading his team with seven points for the quarter, but Milano’s Daniel Hackett and Kristjan Kangur combined for 11 points to keep the game within their control and kept them ahead by five points going into the final period. Armani turned up the pressure and the offense in the final frame and ran away with the game from there. They had a few good defensive stops which limited Pistoia to just 11 fourth quarter points compared to their 20.
Nicolo Melli’s hot hand allowed him to finish as Armani’s top scorer for the game with 18 points and six rebounds. Imports Keith Langford and Samardo Samuels scored 12 and 10 points respectively.
Brad Wannamaker finished with a game-high 20 points for Pistoia, most of which came from the line as he was fouled 10 times during the game. Deron Washington complemented Wannamaker with a double-double effort, scoring 11 points while grabbing 11 boards.
Banco di Sardegna Sassari vs. Enel Basket Brindisi, 75-73
Unlike the first game, this was a closer encounter. Sassari, after losing in each of the first three quarters, managed to pull off a huge comeback in the final period to steal away the game from the hands of Enel Brindisi. Both teams ended the regular season with identical 18-12 records and this close game shows how evenly matched they are.
Enel Brindisi consistently scored 20 points in each of the first three quarters to slowly but steadily increase their lead over Sassari. Thanks to the heroic effort of Caleb Green, who put up 12 points in the final period, Sassari weathered the storm and surged ahead in the end. He finished the game with a double-double, 18 points and 10 rebounds. Sassari overcame an impressive 29-point effort from Enel Brindisi’s Jerome Dyson.