The Turkish Airlines EuroLeague's leading scorer this season played a key role in his team thrashing Valencia Basket.
Mirotic remained red-hot to get Milan back on track
Nikola Mirotic put in a sublime first-quarter performance against Valencia Basket that served as a springboard for EA7 Emporio Armani Milan to bounce back after recording four straight losses in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague.
The 32-year-old forward ended the opening quarter with 14 points, having gone a perfect 4-for-4 from inside the arc and 2-for-2 on triples. He also downed 4 rebounds, including 3 offensive boards that gave the hosts important second-chance points. The hosts managed to grab a 23-12 lead heading into the second quarter and never looked back.
“I think that the team really enjoyed playing this game tonight,” Mirotic said in his post-game flash interview. “It was important for us after a few losses, but I think that we made a step up today on both sides of the court. Hopefully we can start building from this good moment.”
Mirotic shined once again
Mirotic came into Thursday’s contest as the player ranking first in points (20.5 points per game) and PIR (25.0), as well as second in rebounds (7.7), through the first six rounds.
On Wednesday night, he had 19 points and 7 rebounds for a PIR of 23 in less than 21 minutes, before the second unit came off the bench to seal a large lead in the second quarter that helped Milan grab a much-needed comfortable victory. In fact, Milan got 20 points from the bench in the first half, having outscored Valencia 44-31 in the first 20 minutes.
“We played with great energy,” head coach Ettore Messina said during the post-game press conference. “Our defense was very good for 40 minutes. We had a great push by the second unit.
“[We had] a very good start, where Nikola scored in the paint, scored from outside and the team moved the ball well. I think we played a complete game, which is encouraging, and we’ll continue to work looking forward.”
Positive signs for Milan
This was Milan’s finest defensive display this season as it held Valencia to 52 points. The other time that they managed to hold an opponent under 60 points was in their 65-53 win over Olympiacos Piraeus in Round 3.
Messina’s men will be keen to build on Thursday’s home display ahead of a huge fixture to start the double-round week next week, as Milan will face Virtus Segafredo Bologna in the much-anticipated Italian derby in Round 8.