By Johnny Askounis/ [email protected]
After AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milano officially launched preseason preparations ahead of the 2020-21 season, Nicolo Melli discussed his choice to return to the Italian powerhouse, while being introduced by GM Christos Stavropoulos.
“I’m happy to be back after six years, but this is not a landing spot, this is just another re-start. I’m here to win as much as possible. I’m here because the role the coach and club thought for me is extremely appealing. I’m back, but a lot of things are new and different and this is a team who came one made shot short of making it to the EuroLeague final,” he said.
Melli, 30, made his return to Europe official in early July, way before actually considering potential NBA options for him. He spent the last couple of seasons in the NBA logging 108 games played between the Dallas Mavericks and New Orleans Pelicans.
“I signed for Olimpia before the NBA free agency even began, so I made a clear choice,” he explained, “When I spoke to Coach Messina, what he offered me both individually and as a team won me over. That’s why I have no regrets. I am happy with my NBA experience, but I am also happy to be here, very motivated by the challenges that await us.”
Head coach Ettore Messina, a former assistant of Gregg Popovich, at the San Antonio Spurs, expects him to be the player he was before moving to the NBA. The Italian big, after making himself widely known in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague with Milan, added two seasons in the competition at Brose Bamberg and two more at Fenerbahce.
“For me, it represents an important segment of history, but when I left, I experienced all the other stages of my journey as an opportunity for growth. I don’t know what the next three years will represent here, but I know that I don’t consider them a landing spot, but a re-start. I came here with the goal of winning as much as possible,” mentioned Melli regarding his return.
His NBA experience, although through limited roles, will come in handy in his return to Italy and EuroLeague.
“It was an experience that gave me a lot, even though I didn’t play a lot during my second season. I carry with me a lot of good things and a little bit of rust that has probably also surfaced during the national team activity. But there will be time to play many games and take it out,” he said, “I played against the best players in the world, but there are great players here too.”
Photo Credit: FIBA.BASKETBALL
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