Zalgiris roars past Efes to win Group C
Zalgiris Kaunas became a group champion for the first time this century after beating Anadolu Efes Istanbul 71-53 in a game the hosts never trailed on Friday night at Zalgirio Arena. On the final day of the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Regular Season, Zalgiris improved to 8-2 to grab the top spot in Group C, while Efes finished with a 5-5 record and in the third place. The Lithuanian champions opened a double-digit lead on an 8-point run from Marko Popovic in the second quarter, but sealed the deal when they allowed only 7 points in the third quarter and entered the final 10 minutes with a 58-37 lead. In victory, Zalgiris collected 18 offensive rebounds and got 18 points from Paulius Jankunas. Mario Delas scored 10 plus 7 rebounds, including a career-high 5 offensive rebounds, while Popovic scored all 10 of his points in the first half. For Efes, Kerem Gonlum finished with 13 and Semih Erden scored 10 points.
First quarter: Zalgiris grabs lead early
Jankunas went twice inside for layups to start the scoring. Jordan Farmar put Efes on the scoreboard, but Jeff Foote scored twice inside for the hosts, including a dunk after a behind-the-back pass from Delas. Tremmell Darden made it 10-4 with a short jump shot, but Josh Shipp scored a layup-plus-foul before Stanko Barac made a tip-in and Semih Erden hit a baseline floater to help Efes cut it to 14-13. Delas answered with a put-back, then dished inside to Ksistof Lavrinovic for an easy two. Popovic made a floater to extend the Zaligris lead to 7 points before Kerem Gonlum made a layup for 20-15 at the end of the first quarter.
Second quarter: Popovic extends lead to double digits
Delas sliced through the paint to open the scoring in the second quarter and a fastbreak dunk from Mindaugas Kuziminskas made it 24-17. After Jamon Lucas made a spin move to score for the visitors, Popovic hit a long two and a long three, the first three-pointer of the night, for 29-19. Farmar responded with a triple of his own, but Popovic made a basket-plus foul and another 10-point Zalgiris advantage. Efes got back within 4 points after layups from Shipp and Farmar, as well as a big dunk from Stanko Barac before Foote split free throws to end the quarter with Zalgiris ahead 35-30 at halftime.
Third quarter: Zalgiris pulls away
Ibby Jaaber stole the ball and raced for a layup to open the third quarter. A jump shot from Darden followed. Efes scored inside through Erden, but Jankunas strung together 7 points for the hosts, including a couple of uncontested layups on assists from Popovic and a basket-plus-foul, that made it 46-33. Dusko Savanovic answered with a layup but Ksistof Lavrinovic sank a triple and Jankunas made a long two-pointer for the lead to reach 51-35. Zalgiris did not allow another field goal before the quarter’s end, while Kuzminskas and Jankunas made it 58-37 going into the final 10 minutes.
Fourth quarter: Delas finishes the job
The fourth quarter started with a layup from Barac, but Kuzminskas and Delas worked inside on the other end to push the margin to 62-39. Gonlum scored 6 consecutive points for the visitors before Erden had a big one-handed dunk for 66-47. Lucas also hit a triple for Efes, but Zalgiris was not letting down as Delas grabbed another offensive board for a put-back and Rimantas Kaukenas hit a jumper to make it 70-50. As Gonlum was rounding out the scoring with another layup, the home fans were already in celebration of another victory.
Friday, December 14, 2012