Efes Pilsen came back from double-digit deficits on its own floor in Istanbul to fend off Idea Slask Wroclaw with a 95-92 victory that clinched the Group C title for the Turkish champions. Antonio Granger, with 16 points in the 6 mintues after halftime, willed Efes back and finished with 28 points. He won the war, but lost the shootout he had with Slask scorer Lynn Greer, who put up 30 points. Efes improved to 10-3, and though it can still be tied on victories by Benetton Treviso, it owns the head-to-head tie-break advantage against the Italians. Slask, despite scoring 25 more points than Efes allows on average, slipped to 6-7 and what could be a difficult spot in trying to still make the Top 16. Trajan Langdon added 16 points for the winners, Ender Arslan 14, Kaya Peker 13 and Ermal Kuqo 12. For Idea, Dominik Tomczyk followed Greer with 21 points, while Adam Wojcik put up 16 in 21 minutes before fouling out and Tanel Tein added 10.
Idea Slask used an unexpected lack of defence by Efes very well in the first quarter as Greer and forward Tanel Tein scored to get their team started. Efes, one of the best defensive teams of the season, seemed a little relaxed in this quarter while Slask kept filling the basket, now with help from Wojcik and Michal Ignerski. Greer, as usual, was unstoppable, as he scored 9 points in a 3-11 run that put the visitors up 16-21 after 7 minutes. Efes found itself in the remaining minutes of the quarter, equalling the score at 21-21 with a 6-0 stretch in 90 seconds capped by Kaya Peker's layup. Efes turned to zone defense then but Slask punished it with 5 straight points, Dominik Tomczyk's three-point shot and Wojcik's layup, as the visitors seized a 23-26 advantage after 10 minutes. Greer was up to 11 points already for Slask.
Efes started the second quarter with a spectacular dunk by Peker, but Slask remained in control of the game. The visitors boosted the difference up to 6 points again after 22 minutes with a three-pointer from the left side by Wojcik: 25-31. Ignerski added another three-pointer for Slask in the 15th minute to make it 28-37, then Radoslaw Hyzy stole and scored to strengthen the gap to 11 points, 28-39. The visitors seemed more motivated, but Efes again tried hard in the remaining minutes of the quarter to reduce the deficit. Using a zone defense again, the home team provoked some Slask turnovers, while Wojcik and Langdon held a scoring duel for the rest of the first half. Idea Slask held onto a 40-47 lead thanks to Wojcik's 14 points and 13 more by Greer. Langdon had 12 by then for Efes.
Out of the locker room Efes returned with both its trademark defense and Granger on fire. The Efes forward got his team going with a layup and a triple that tied the game before an Ender Arslan layup finished a 9-0 run with Efes ahead again, 49-47. Granger was not nearly done. He pumped in a second triple for the biggest Efes lead yet, 53-49. Worse, for Slask, was that Wojcik got hit with a fifth foul after getting angry with an offensive foul call against him i the 24th minute. Granger had no mercy and stepped up for his third and fourth three-pointers in as many minutes, then added another layup. He had scored 16 points in 6 minutes and Efes was in control now at 62-53). Or so it seemed. Slask had life left, as Greer followed his and Tein's 4 straight foul shots with three-pointer for a 0-7 run that got Slask within 62-60. Greer then equalled the score 62-62 in the 28th minute with a layup and added another three-pointer in the last minute of the quarter to put Slask back ahead, 66-67, after 30 minutes.
Granger started the last period with 2 more three-pointers in succession to led his team ahead once again, 72-69. Tomczyk and Greer were trying to keep Slask close while Efes was fighting to keep the lead in the hand. A Tomczyk three-pointer would put Slask over the top again at 80-81 after 26 minutes, but within another minute, Arslan answered from the same distance to make it 85-81 Efes. The hosts then took control of the game then, taking advantage of some quick shots by Tomczyk and Greer to play a set game in the remaining 3 minutes and increased the gap to 8 points, 91-83, with a minute to go on a spectacular dunk by Peker. But Slask would not die and posted an 0-6 run early in that last minute, on points by Tomczyk and Ryan Randle, to close within 91-89. But the tactical fouls down the stretch changed little as Langdon made 3 free throws which kept Slask from having a chance to tie down the stretch and made Efes the champs of Group C.
Thursday, February 12, 2004