By: Sam Meyerkopf / @euro_adventures
We’re here. Half way through the regular season. Some teams have shocked and impressed, while others have saddened and depressed. What we have here are two teams who we’re still not totally sure about. They’ve both got dogfights each and every week play in the Euroleague’s deadly Group C, so maybe it’s not that the teams are inconsistent, but rather that this group is so damn tough that it’s impossible for even a solid team to stay consistent. Olimpia Milano and Partizan Belgrade both find themselves 2-2 and doing anything to survive.
Milano is a bit of a mystery. They’ve won at home against Maccabi but also lost in the same arena to Efes, failing to score 60 points. My take on Milano is that they will have an explosive offense the rest of this season, led by Gallinari-Malik Hairston-Ioannis Bourousis. But the big key is will Omar Cook wake up out of this shooting funk and start contributing? Only Omar can answer that.
Another lingering concern: how long is Danilo Gallinari going to stay in Milano? Answer: a long time, thanks to the stubbornness of NBA owners and players. Now, Milano can can try to get comfortable with a rotation that should last all season.
With so many new additions this offseason, Milano is still figuring everything out. The good news is that they brought in a lot of veteran winners who have bought into team systems before. A 63-56 win over Montepaschi Siena this weekend in the Italian League should be a big confidence booster and help coach Sergio Scariolo figure out which game plans are most effective.
The Partizan side of the picture is a little bit clearer…but only when they’re playing at home. The two-headed post power tandem of Milan Macvan and Nikola Pekovic has been killing defenses the past two games at home. Partizan has looked like a different team in Weeks 3 and 4, but they’ve been playing in the comforts of Pionir Arena. Now a true road test could reveal this team’s real soul.
Acie Law has to produce against Cook and force the pace Partizan wants. Partizan has better bigs, but Milano is much stronger on the perimeter. Gallinari and others will be content shooting threes rather than driving into Partizan’s muscle, but that means Partizan has to really close out on shooters. It also means Pekovic can’t get into foul trouble, or Partizan’s advantage is neutralized.
This game is intriguing in so many ways that it just had to be the our Must Watch. We should get a high scoring affair with Milano coming out strong at home after a win last week and Partizan struggling a little with the pace. Once the game gets going and slows down a little, Partizan should be able to run some strong half court sets centered around getting good position for their bigs. If Law can continually beat Cook off the dribble, it will open up a little more room for the shaky Partizan shooters.
Can’t wait to see how things actually play out. What game will you be watching?