Siena men’s basketball take victory in Italian opener


Sophomore guard Jared Billups, in his first game after right wrist surgery, scored 15 points to lead four in double figures as the Siena men’s basketball team beat Stella 84-39 Azzurra Saturday in Rome in the opening match of their 10-day trip to Italy.

Billups added seven rebounds and two blocks, freshman guard Michael Eley had 14 points and nine rebounds, Guilderland graduate guard Andrew Platek had 14 points in his first game after Achilles tendon surgery and the graduate center Jackson Stormo added 11 points and six rebounds.

“I was really excited,” Maciariello said in the Siena sports communication video. “We were able to get everyone to play. Four double-digit guys. Andrew Platek back healthy, Jared Billups back healthy, Michael Eley able to show what we saw when we signed him. (First year forward) Killian Gribben from the bench did some great things.

Stella Azzurra, who plays in Italy’s Serie A2 division, lost 60-57 on Thursday night to an American high school team that included sons of NBA greats LeBron James, Penny Hardaway and Scottie Pippen.

Virginia of the Atlantic Coast Conference defeated Stella Azzurra 76-24 on August 13.

“For me it was a great first step,” Maciariello said. “We kept them at 39 so that was one of our targets and I can see our lads being able to carry it over. It’s tough to play with a lead from the first half to the second half and really proud of the effort and we had a chance to maybe enjoy a bit of Rome tonight and get out of here and head to Florence tomorrow.

Siena led 23-15 after the first quarter and 44-19 at halftime.

“Defense and energy right off the bat,” Billups said in a video from Siena. “We told our guys, when we get up, keep going. That’s all we did. … I think we’re going to be really good. The way we looked today, we were in the grip, we were sharing the ball and everything, we’re going to be really good.

Billups had wrist surgery in April after being injured against Quinnipiac in January.

“The wrist feels great,” he said. “It was back to normal. Everything felt good.

Siena will continue to visit Italy and have two more games to play – Friday in Crema against Pallacanestro of the Serie B division and next Saturday in Piancenz against UCC Assigeco Piacenza of Serie A2.

“I’m really happy that I got to play against everyone,” Maciariello said. “These guys were able to get into a groove and also (fifth-year guard) Jayce Johnson back (from a forearm injury) who started at point guard for us. Then, obviously, when Javian McCollum is healthy, we can also try to bring him back. It’s great for this team, great for this collective unity that we build every day.

The Saints were without second-year point guard McCollum, who is with the team but not playing after undergoing dental treatment.

Eley was a late signing for the Fort Wayne, Indiana Saints via a prep program in Florida.

“Mike has incredible energy and is a terrific athlete,” Maciariello said. “However, my favorite play was probably his transition pull from the foul line. Stopped on a dime and got up over a defender and knocked him down. Just really excited. He gives us some depth that we really need in this two-guard spot.

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