Efes pulls away late to beat Baskonia
Reigning champion Anadolu Efes Istanbul got back to its winning ways by knocking off Bitci Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz 87-72 at home on Tuesday night. Efes broke the game open with a 12-0 run spanning the third and fourth quarters and gave up just 10 points in the final frame to snap a two-game losing streak and improve to 7-8. Last season’s Most Valuable Player Vasilije Micic paced Efes with 24 points while his dynamic backcourt partner Shane Larkin collected 16 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals. Tibor Pleiss stepped up as well with 17 points and Adrien Moerman chipped in 15 points. Baskonia failed to build on its big win last week against LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne and dropped to 5-10 with its eighth loss in the last nine games. Jayson Granger and Simone Fontecchio score 17 points each in the loss and Wade Baldwin IV added 10 points.
Tadas Sedekerskis had a steal and layup to start the scoring for the visitors with Moerman answering at the other end. Steven Enoch added 4 points and Baskonia led 2-8 early. Granger chipped in 2 three-pointers and it was 8-16. Pleiss countered with 4 quick points only to see Baldwin’s triple extend the gap to 13-21 after 10 minutes.
Rodrigue Beaubois opened the second quarter with the first 5 points before Granger drained a triple after more than 2 minutes. A Micic three-pointer trimmed the margin to 23-24. Lamar Peters and Granger hit from deep as Baskonia pushed ahead 25-32. The three-pointers continued to rain with Larkin and Micic connecting in a 10-2 Efes run to take the lead, 35-34. The lead changed hands four times the rest of the quarter and Efes went into the locker room up 43-42.
Efes continued its sharpshooting early in the second half with Larkin and Moerman knocking down long balls in an 8-1 start for a 51-43 cushion. Sedekerskis and Fontecchio combined for all 11 points in a 2-11 Baskonia run to reclaim the lead, 53-54. Efes punched right back with 10 of the next 12 points to move ahead 63-56 and the gap was 66-62 after 30 minutes.
Pleiss opened the final frame with a dunk and Micic hit a triple in a 9-0 start for a 75-62 cushion. Rokas Giedraitis finally got the guests on the board after more than 4 minutes. But Pleiss kept going with 7 more points - including a triple - and a block as the gap extended to 82-66 with 3 minutes to play. Granger and Peters both hit from deep in the closing minutes to make the final result look a bit more bearable.
Micic in MVP form
Vasilije Micic made sure that Anadolu Efes Istanbul would not lose a third straight game as last season’s Most Valuable Player showed up big time in a game the reigning champs knew they needed to win. Micic poured in 24 points against Bitci Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz as he made 5 of 8 two-pointers, 3 of 5 three-pointers and all 5 of his free throws. On top of that, he added 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and 6 fouls drawn for a performance index rating of 31. He only committed 1 turnover in more than 27 minutes of action.
Season high for Granger
One of the bright spots for Bitci Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz on Tuesday was a strong offensive showing by Jayson Granger. He buried 5 three-pointers in scoring 17 points, a season-high for the 32-year-old. Granger also grabbed 4 rebounds and dished out 3 assists for an index rating of 17. The 5 three-pointers were one off his career-best. It was the fourth time in his career that he drained five triples in a game - and the first since December 3, 2020, when he was playing for ALBA Berlin against Valencia Basket.
Baskonia can’t survive turnover problems
The stats for the game were actually quite similar with both teams shooting about 50.0% on two-pointers and about 30.0% from long range. Anadolu Efes Istanbul had 3 more made free throws and both teams had about the same number of rebounds and offensive rebounds. But the glaring difference was turnovers. Bitci Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz committed 18 turnovers while Efes lost the ball just 8 times. Efes did not take that much of an advantage in the points off turnovers category - 15 to 11 - but it was the lost momentum that Baskonia regularly had to deal with and overcome.
Tuesday, December 14, 2021