Barcelona outlasts Efes in OT thriller in Championship Game rematch
FC Barcelona exacted a bit of revenge on Anadolu Efes Istanbul for losing in the 2021 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Championship Game as it collected a 93-95 overtime victory on the road in an instant classic. Both teams had four-game winning streaks and Efes built a 12-point lead early in the third quarter. Former Efes hero Sertac Sanli helped Barcelona come back and send the game to overtime, where Kyle Kuric and Rokas Jokubaitis stepped up to win the game and give Barcelona an 11-2 record. The victory also snapped a four-game losing streak to Efes thanks to Sanli scoring a career-high 24 points. Nikola Mirotic scored 18 points, Kuric ended with 16 points and Nicolas Laprovittola chipped in 14 points and 8 assists in the win. Efes dropped to 6-7 with the loss despite Vasilije Micic pouring in 26 points while Adrien Moerman had 16 points, Shane Larkin scored 14 points with 6 assists, Tibor Pleiss tallied 13 points and Krunoslav Simon chipped in 10 points in the defeat.
Kuric opened the scoring before Rodrigue Beaubois hit first for Efes and Simon gave the Turkish side its first lead. Sanli and Laprovittola both knocked down three-pointers in a 0-8 Barcelona surge to pull ahead 5-12. Larkin came off the bench and immediately gave the hosts a spark with a three-point play and triple, before Simon’s jumper and three-pointer had Efes up 20-16. Micic followed with a three-point play and the hosts were up 25-20 after 10 minutes. Efes continued its push and scored the first six points of the second quarter, holding Barcelona scoreless for the first 3 minutes to take a 31-20 advantage. Sanli stopped the rut with three points, Mirotic added a triple and two assists and Laprovittola’s three-pointer cut the gap to 35-33. But 5 straight points from Moerman had Efes back up 47-37 at the break.
Pleiss threw down a dunk to start the second half, but Mirotic answered with two three-pointers to pull Barcelona within 52-45. Five points each from Larkin and Micic cancelled out triples from Kuric and Jokubaitis, and Efes led 64-53. Barcelona got some defensive stops and Mirotic tallied five points in a 0-9 spurt, but Efes was up 68-62 after 30 minutes. Barcelona's defense continued in the final frame and Sanli drained two three-pointers to complete a 0-10 run, putting the guests ahead 68-72. Micic finally scored Efes’ first points after more than 4 minutes, but Sergi Martinez followed with a triple of his own. Efes answered with five points to even the game again but Sanli hit another three-pointer and added a dunk and Barcelona was up 75-80 with 90 seconds left. Efes was not ready to concede yet as Micic splashed home a triple and Larkin converted two free throws with 20 seconds to play, to even the game 80-80. Mirotic missed his attempt to win the game in regulation.
After Sanli hit a layup to start overtime, both Mirotic and Larkin fouled out of the game with Kuric hitting two free throws and a three-pointer to make it 81-87. Pleiss punched back with a three-pointer of his own, only to have Efes coach Ergin Ataman ejected with two consecutive technical fouls. Kuric and Brandon Davies both hit two free throws and Barcelona found itself up 84-91 with less than 3 minutes left. Efes scored six straight points, with Micic missing a free throw that could have tied the game. Jokubaitis followed with a huge three-point play with 47 seconds left to make it a four-point lead. Jokubaitis turned the ball over on an inbounds pass and Moerman sank a three-pointer with 2.4 seconds left and it was 93-94. But Sanli was immediately fouled and made one free throw to win the game.
Laprovittola, Jokubaitis make up for Calathes and Higgins absence
One of the biggest storylines coming into the game was how Barcelona would survive not having the injured Nick Calathes and Cory Higgins, especially facing Efes and its great backcourt. But the duo of Nicolas Laprovittola and Rokas Jokubaitis handled the task admirably. They combined for 23 points on 9-of-18 shooting, 6 rebounds, 12 assists and 3 steals while committing only 6 turnovers. That gave the backup duo a combined index rating of 28. Considering what they were going up against, it was a more than solid performance.
Beaubois joins Efes’ 2000-point EuroLeague club
Rodrigue Beaubois hit a floater late in the third quarter to join the 2000-point club in the EuroLeague. The 33-year-old ended up with 6 points and now has 2001 points after 185 games for Strasbourg, Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz and Efes. Beaubois is the 49th player to eclipse the 2000 point mark in EuroLeague history. And he is the sixth current Efes player in the group, joining Bryant Dunston (2105), Shane Larkin (2124), Vasilije Micic (2074), Tibor Pleiss (2042) and Krunoslav Simon (2201).
Barcelona rebounds do the trick
Barcelona absolutely dominated the glass with 47 rebounds to 29 for Efes, including 16 offensive rebounds to just 2 for the hosts - something which has been a problem for Efes all season, ranking 15th in the league in offensive rebounds. The guests were able to turn all those extra possessions into 14 second-chance points, compared to just 4 for Efes. In another key stat, Barcelona came into the game allowing teams to shoot just 32.1% on three-pointers and performed to similar levels as Efes converted on just 35.7% from long range in the game.
Friday, December 3, 2021