Efes Pilsen left Basket City stunned on Wednesday when it scored 6 points in the final half-minute to steal a 72-73 Group A victory from under the nose of host Skipper Bologna. Omer Onan's three-pointer with 9 seconds left tied the game for Efes, and then Granger was fouled as time ran out and won it with a free throw. In the span of seconds, Efes raised its record to 3-2 while Skipper's fell to 2-3. Efes was able to hold on despite the fact that its leader, Marcus Brown, fouled out early in the final quarter. Brown led all scorers with 19 points. Kaspars Kambala added 18 for the winners and Antonio Granger 12. For Skipper, Gianmarco Pozzecco put up 18 points, Gianluca Basile 13 and Vlado Scepanovic 10.
Scepanovic was back in Skipper's starting five, while Efes began with Jurica Golemac to open the court as Kambala worked the low post. The first minutes were played at full speed with close scoreboards such as Skipper's minimum lead, 11-10 after 4 minutes. Both teams started giving the ball inside to their centers, with Skipper trying to exploit Mate Skelin's size advantage over Kambala, also changing the side of the ball for shooters Scepanovic and Antonio Granger. Kambala started with 4 for 4 inside the paint, while Skelin missed a couple of layups. The guards started with great intensity (8 points for Scepanovic, 7 for Granger in 5 minutes), and the score remained close after 8 minutes, with Skipper ahead 16-15. It was pleasant basketball to watch, with the first foul called after 8 minutes. Efes took the lead at 18-19 on Kerem Tunceri's jumper, but Skipper center Emilijo Kovacic sank a hook at the buzzer to give back a one-point lead, 20-19, to the hosts.
A 0-5 mini run inked by Brown and forward Kaya Peker coming off the bench gave Efes its first important lead, 20-24. Skipper managed just a basket in the first 4 minutes, from Pozzecco, and had early foul troubles with Kovacic (3). Kambala reached double digits early working the post, with 11 points in 14 minutes, good for a 22-27 Efes lead. Brown stole from Basile and made two free throws as the lead hit 25-33. A Tunceri triple came as another blow to Skipper, now trailing 29-38, but backup center Tomas Van Den Spiegel stopped the slide with a layup, and Pozzecco carried the team upon his shoulders to try to come back. He scored a key layup and drew Tunceri's third foul converting the additional free throw to get Skipper within 34-38 with 2 left in the second quarter. Skipper made it to the break down only 39-45 on 11 points from Pozzecco, the same as kambala had for Efes.
Efes coach Oktay Mahmuti started with Kaya Peker in second half starting five, while Skipper lined up Van Den Spiegel. Skipper forward Carlos Delfino suffered a light injury early in the quarter, and Efes inked a 2-7 run with Brown to take a double-digit lead at 41-52. Pozzecco and Van Den Spiegel tried to stop the slide by pulling Skipper bakc to 47-54 after 25 minutes, but Efes responded with 5 points by Brown, who would score 12 in the quarter, but also picked up his foruth foul. Skipper tried to avoid another heavy blow and didn't sink thanks to a mini run that made it 53-61, but Efes started playing slow basketball. Golemac hit a three for a 53-64 lead, but Skipper got free throws from Kovacic and Van Den Spiegel and was able to close the quarter giving up only 8 points to Efes, 57-65.
Carlos Delfino was back from injury for Skipper in the last quarter, while Efes lined up guards Tunceri and Brown to drive the team in the last 10 minutes. But Brown was suddenly fouled out due to a charge against Delfino. Skipper found 3 golden points while denying Efes a point for the first 5 minutes. But at 60-65, Kovacic was fouled out, and when Golemac scored driving inside Efes welcomed the basket like water to a man dying of third. The point guard duo Pozzecco-Basile drove Skipper on a 4-0 mini-run to get back within 64-67. Tunceri missed a couple of key free throws, and Basile's free throw reduced the deficit to just a basket, 65-67. Pozzecco completed the comeback with a three-pointer for a 68-67 Skipper lead. Efes had hit only 1 of 9 shots thus. Skipper could have deepened the lead with Pozzecco shooting from the line, but he missed twice. With under 2 minutes to go, and after an incredible series of errors by both teams, Skipper's Giacomo Galanda was fouled on a three-point attempt. Galanda made the first two and missed the third free throw, but grabbed the rebound, which Delfino converted as slam dunk for a 72-67 Skipper lead that looked unbreakable. It was not so. Even after Ender Arslan missed a couple of free throws, Efes rallied thanks to Granger's lay up that made it 72-69. Then Efes reached the last 18 seconds with the possession and Onan tied it up with a three from downtown with 9 seconds left on the clock. Pozzecco suffered a key turnover for the hosts and then Granger was fouled with no time left. Granger scored the free throw and Efes won, 72-73.
Wednesday, November 6, 2002