«With two point guards (Pangos and Napier) we have rediscovered joy and victories»- Corriere.it

«With two point guards (Pangos and Napier) we have rediscovered joy and victories»- Corriere.it

Of Robert DePonti

The Armani coach, engaged in the Euroleague on Thursday 16 March against Real Madrid : We must all deserve reconfirmation, starting with me

Ettore Messina, are you breathing a sigh of relief?

I should?.

His Olimpia Milano returned to winning. And to convince. Six Euroleague wins in a row after a string of defeats will mean something.

They mean we probably weren't as scarce as we seemed and we're probably not as strong as we seem today. We will lose more games and win more. Let's hope we win the ones that count.

For today, Olimpia is a completely different team compared to a few weeks ago.

I think that having recovered a point guard, or rather two, made the difference. Napier had quite an impact on the team simply by getting all the players back in their positions, and Pangos has come back from injury with a different mentality than in the first few games.

In hindsight, wasn't it better to sign Napier sooner?

In hindsight, yes.

When could you get it?

Napier said he was available from Christmas onwards.

And why did you wait?

Because we thought we'd recover Pangos by the end of January, but instead the injury turned out to last longer than expected. And because we wanted to give Mitrou-Long enough time to grow.

So you found yourself losing to opponents within your reach. Regrets?

We have so many regrets. Things don't always go as planned.

In purely theoretical terms, the Euroleague has not yet been lost: it would be enough to win all the games, starting from tomorrow's match against Real in Madrid, until the end of the regular season.

It would mean making history by winning 13 games in a row and conquering the playoffs after a comeback from last place. Better be realistic.

At least he's got his team back. What at the beginning of the season almost everyone had baptized as a group from the Final Four.

From me first, stupidly. Maybe I put too much pressure on the boys.

Then at a certain point it seemed like a team to be re-founded. Today, however, it seems to need only a few adjustments for the future.

Yes, to definitely become more balanced.

Can the season finale help determine who deserves to stay and who doesn't?

It applies to everyone, starting with me. I don't make distinctions between who coaches, who directs and who plays, we all have to deserve reconfirmation. At the end of the season we will draw conclusions.

You never asked yourself, during the black period of many defeats, but is it still me or have I lost touch? Am I to retire?...

I was wondering that when I was 40, let alone wondering now. And even if you don't ask me, I see a lot of people remind me every day.

And what answer was given?

Work hard, and then sum up.

Speaking of work, has the team never backed down?

Never! Only if you work and lose, training weighs much more on you. Now I finally see people having fun.

Problems with players?

None, even if the many injuries forced us to go on the transfer market, and now there are many of us. Now that everyone is returning, some players who previously had high minutes will probably have to sacrifice themselves.

So was Napier's arrival enough to turn the season from cos to cos?

I certainly didn't expect an understanding on the pitch between the two point guards. Physically they pay a little in defense, but the big men enjoy playing with them and willingly sacrifice themselves to protect them. But there's more.


The Melli-Voigtmann pairing, for example: Melli plays more from the center, like in the national team, and Voigtmann is good at opening the pitch. And then Ricci and Tonut gave us something extra. When you start winning, build confidence. It wasn't easy for Tonut: Milan is an ugly beast, I would like to remember the first months of the Premier League at Olimpia, when the fans targeted him. Then thanks to the character became the Premier of Billy.

What clicked in the heads of the players?

the desire to prove that we weren't that team was triggered. I suffered seeing players who have played, and won, the Final Four not being able to explain what was happening.

And she explained it to herself?

On the one hand, I was wondering how to get the team back on its feet. On the other hand, I told myself to be patient. To wait for the return of Pangos and Shields.

Injuries didn't help her.

I've never been able to coach the team I had in mind. In America, it matters how many different quintets the teams have had: the more they are, the more it means you had problems. I've lost count of how many different quintets I've had to line up....

In the Italian Cup, Napier was there. But you lost.

The only game he got wrong. The wrong one, indeed. I would add however that a team convinced of its means that recovers from -18 to +5 does not lose that game. We weren't convinced of ourselves yet.

Are you now?

Wins help.

You're all on trial, even Kyle Hines. Boiled too, it was said.

There is no mercy. People forget who you are. Why did Meneghin play until he was 40? Certainly not for the points he scored, but for his leadership, his presence. If people knew how much Kyle weighs in the locker room, if they saw how much he suffers when the team goes badly, if he understood how many things he does for the good of the team, then he would change his attitude. People just have no memory.

About memory. On Sunday he finds his Virtus again, and his former fans have sworn it to him. She is sorry?

A lot, but I can't help it. I have not betrayed Virtus, Virtus has never called me: they called me Milan. And if the fans are offended by a three-centimeter tattoo done as a joke with my son, it's not my fault. a wrong mentality eg, I am very sorry.

March 15, 2023 (change March 15, 2023 | 07:42)

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