Dario Marra has already written a great preview of his home town team from Roma. He also offered to send us his view on Armani Jeans Milano, which we are really appreciating. Dario and his team at basketcentral has helped us a lot as we can only tell you to visited their web site a lot this year since all eyes will be on Brandon Jennings and the Lega A, which will be covered by basketcentral.
Basketcentral will also supply us with news in English soon, so anybody who is interested in the Italian league has to add this site to his RSS feed or at least bookmark list.
Overall record prediction: 4-6
There’s a thin red line between Rome and Milan. Why? Well, not just because those are the most important (and biggest) cities in Italy, but mostly because during the summer the Armani’s (since July the new official owner of Milano) best player, David Hawkins (28 pts, 10/12 fg in the first victory against Scavolini Pesaro), came straight from Rome, along with the new AJ assistant coach Guido Saibene. You can add some other stories, like Piero Bucchi, the new Armani coach, who spent two years and and a half in Rome, or Dejan Bodiroga, who was an incredible player for the old Sefanel Milano and now is Lottomatica’s GM.
All nice stories, but Milano-Roma will mean, as usual, one the biggest rivalries in Italy, with Armani Jeans trying to get back to the glorious past with a new front office and a completely new roster.
The most important players of the last season have left: Gallinari is enjoying New York, while Watson, Booker, Sesay, Shaw are now playing for different teams (actually Booker is even thinking about retirement…). The only confirmed player was Mindaugas Katelynas (Massimo Bulleri started last season in Milano but ended in Virtus Bologna): the Lithuanian will be the back up PF of Mike Hall jr. The American player from George Washington likes to play like a small forward, enjoys 3p shooting, without giving any inside presence and was very disappointing during this first part of the season. Right now, he’s the biggest question mark in Bucchi’s roster, who’ll certainly enjoy the good defensive attitude of his group: David Hawkins (if he wants to…) is an ace as a deffensive stopper, while Mordente (who came from Treviso), Jobey Thomas (last season in Montegranaro) and Rocca usually give a great effort on the deffensive end.
Beside those, the point guard’s spot looks promising: Luca Vitali, after a great season in Montegaranaro, he showed all his potential by leading a big team like Milano and will share minutes with Massimo Bulleri, who had many ups and downs during the last three seasons. Another option might be Yhoann Sangare, who has yet to crack the rotation.
The front court has many options (Mike Hall, Katelynas, Pape Sow and Rocca) but none of them has the attitude to play the low post game, while they’re very good in rebounding and playing both pick and roll (Rocca) and pick and pop (Katelynas, Hall). Sow will help with his athleticism but has to improve with staying focused on both ends.
The first game against Pesaro has shown the best and worst of this team: Milano has few players who can create their own shots on a regular basis (Hawkins and Thomas, great in catch and shoot and in playing off the screens), but many players know how to fight for a win and there is a nice italian core (Bulleri, Vitali, Mordente, Rocca), which will certainly help coach Bucchi. The only doubt, eventually, is the amount of talent of the team (and how the team fits together on the offensive end), which might be a problem especially at the Euroleague level. As the new front office has said many times this team is not built up to wins right now and surely it’s not ready to fight for the final victory at the European level, but gaining the access to the top 16 should be a normal target for a team which has won 9 international titles…
Final Four participants: Cska, Siena, Pana, Efes
Final Four Winner: Cska
written by Mario Darra