The trio of Luigi Datome, Kyle Hines and Sergio Rodriguez gave it their all before bowing out of the playoffs with AX Armani Exchange Milan on Thursday.
Milan vets went out with a bang
Despite being 34, 35 and 35 years of age, respectively, Datome, Hines and Rodriguez combined for 54.3% of Milan’s points, 45.2% of its player rebounds and 45% of the assists, despite combing for just 38.5% of the team’s minutes.
Datome helped Milan rally from double-digit deficits twice in Game 4 and finished with a season-high 21 points. What was even more remarkable was that he underwent knee surgery early in the month and was doubtful to play in the series, as the opposing head coach noted in admiration.
“Gigi Datome played an excellent game, maybe his best game this season, and honestly, we didn’t wait for him to play in this series because we were told that he got an injury, he had surgery two weeks ago, but congratulations to him also that maybe he’s not in the best shape after a long injury, but he played a great game,” Ataman said in the post-game press conference. “Congratulations to him personally. Like a coach, he got them out of trouble and they came back in the game.”
Hines posted 10 points and 12 rebounds for his third double-double of the season. He grabbed 8 offensive rebounds which tied the record for a playoff game and gave him the most accumulated offensive rebounds in playoff history. Hines tied Bryant Dunston of Efes, Ante Tomic and Felipe Reyes for the single-game record. His career tally of 83 offensive rebounds in the playoffs took him past Reyes (80) for that mark.
The big man also moved into fifth place for accumulated performance index rating points in the playoffs with 408, surpassing Sergio Llull (403) of Real Madrid. This season Hines became the EuroLeague’s career leader in both offensive rebounds and two-point baskets made and he finishes his 12th EuroLeague season with 741 and 1,209, respectively.
Rodriguez, who played despite suffering an ankle injury earlier in the series, ran the Milan offense and finished with 7 points and 7 assists with just 1 turnover in 22 minutes. In doing so, he also climbed a few runs on the EuroLeague all-time charts. Rodriguez made his 546th career three-pointer, which tied him with his former Real Madrid teammate Rudy Fernandez for third-most all-time.
Rodriguez also tied Ante Tomic for sixth place in the history of the EuroLeague Playoffs with 359 points. He came within 1 triple of catching Vassilis Spanoulis for third-place in the playoffs in that category and 1 assist of Marcelino Huertas for eighth in playoff history.
After the game, Coach Ettore Messina said: “I am very happy and thankful for the help Chacho Rodriguez and Gigi Datome, coming back from injuries, gave to us.”
He then pivoted to add: “Next year we’ll make a commitment to give it another try, to try to go back to the playoffs and fight to make another Final Four.”
If this trio of veterans is back, Messina can count on having the leadership needed to go far.