By Eurohoops Team/ [email protected]
AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milano, powered by Shavon Shields, defeated FC Bayern Munich, 92-89, to clinch the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four berth.
Shields, 26, reset his career-high midway through the third quarter and ended up with 34 points to top the list of best Game 5 scoring performances. The former Nebraska standout reserved himself for the finale as the next player to step up in the best-of-five series marked by plenty of solid individual showings.
“First off, you have to give Munich a bunch of credit. Hats off to them, it was a great series. They fought hard and it was a tough challenge. But we’re all super happy,” pointed out the American-Danish forward, “This is what we came here for: to bring a Final Four to Milan. The job’s not finished. We’ve got two more to go, and we’re going to give it our best.”
The other main attraction of this series, packed with breathtaking contests, failed to make an appearance in the third meeting of Milan and Bayern at Mediolanum Forum. A comeback from a large deficit did not occur as the team guided by Ettore Messina held on despite its 17-point cushion shrunk to a slim two-point lead with 12.6 seconds left.
The Game 5 guests jumped to an early six-point lead, 8-2, but trailed the rest of the way. Failing to connect from beyond the arc in the entire first half did not help their case. They finished with 7/19 triples as the progressing side banked in 12/22, five of those sank by Shields.
Malcolm Delaney, once again facing his first EuroLeague team, registered 16 points, including five straight points after the lead was cut to six with 3:35 remaining. Well-experienced Kyle Hines produced 12 more points and with a key defensive effort forced a jump-ball with 7 seconds left, bailing his side out of an error-prone sequence and securing the W.
“I think we came up with a very solid game. It was almost spoiled by one minute of craziness. We turned the ball over almost every possible way in the book. But then there was a great defensive play by Kyle Hines and that was the game,” summed up Messina.
“It’s a beautiful feeling. To do it with this group of guys. For so many of the guys, it will be the first time going to the Final Four,” said Hines, “The way we did it, the way we stuck it out, the way we fought through this tough series. My hat’s off to Bayern, but it’s a beautiful feeling.”
The Italian club, returning to the Final Four after 29 years, will make its way to Cologne, Germany. The remaining fixtures of Europe’s premier club competition are scheduled for May 28-30 at Lanxess Arena.
Jalen Reynolds posted a 19-point, 10-rebound double-double for Andrea Trinchieri’s side. Wade Baldwin IV made 13 of his 17 points after the break.
“Congratulations to Milan. I believe that they played a great game. They were better for a long part of the game. But we didn’t die at the moment we were supposed to – when a couple of Milan players had outstanding performances,” noted the German side’s boss, “And we had the chance to win the game. We didn’t execute the last offense well, but this kind of game is very demanding. We have a lack of experience. But we played hard, we competed until the end.”