AX Armani Exchange Milan returned to the title-winner’s podium in the Italian League on Saturday by stopping defending champion Virtus Segafredo Bologna 81-64 at home to win their final series 4-2.
It was the 29th national title for Milan and its first since 2017-18. Milan’s big early leads and 10-0 starts to both the third and fourth quarters proved too much for the visiting 7DAYS EuroCup champions from Bologna. Luigi Datome buried five three-pointers on the way to a team-high 23 points for the winners. Shavon Shields added 15 and Sergio Rodriguez 12 to go with eight assists. Amar Alibegovic led Virtus with 11 points while Nico Mannion scored 10.
An 18-4 first-quarter run in which Datome scored 8 points and Rodriguez 5 vaulted the hosts to a 20-7 lead. Milan stayed ahead 29-16 after 10 minutes as Jerian Grant added five late points in the quarter. The advantage reached 32-16 on Datome’s next triple before Amar Alibegovic bracketed a 5-13 response by Virtus with shots from the arc to make it 37-29. Daniel Hackett’s three-point play cut the difference to 5 points before Datome’s free throws left a 43-36 halftime scoreboard. Kyle Hines and Datome, with his third triple of the night, restored a double-digit lead at 48-36 as Milan’s defense held Virtus scoreless for more than 5 minutes into the middle of the third quarter. Rodriguez and Nicolo Melli kept it going until Milan led 53-36 and lost just a basket from that difference before the third quarter ended 61-46. Another 10-0 start to the fourth quarter, filled by Rodriguez, Hines, and Melli, pushed the difference to 71-46 and assured that the trophy would rise again at Mediolanum Forum.