Efes Pilsen made sure that its trip to the Top 16 would never be doubted when it waylaid visiting Charleroi 78-65 on Wednesday in Group A. The victory ran Efes's record to an untouchable 8-5 as it retained fourth place in the group. Kaspars Kambala ruled the inside for 20 points to put Efes over the top. Marcus Brown added 15 for the winners and Saulius Stombergas 14. Charleroi (2-11) was led by Roger Huggins with 15 points, Ronald Ellis and Louis Rowe with 13 each.
Efes Pilsen, already having guaranteed a place in the second phase of the Euroleague, started the game fast with a six-point lead after just the first five minutes. The Istanbul team, who had previously lost to Charleroi 79-75 on the road, took the lead thanks to nine points from American guard Marcus Brown in the early minutes of the period. Kaspars Kambala then answered Roger Huggins and gave the home team an eight point lead at the end of the first period, 23-15. Roger Huggins was the only threat for the Belgians finishing the quarter with 12 of his team's 15 points.
In the second period, visiting Charleroi tightened their defense as they tried to stop Efes' efficient offense, and it worked. They succeeded in limiting the home team to just three points in the first five minutes. A three-pointer by David Desy in the 14th minute reduced the difference to just three points, 26-23, but then Efes' substitutions of Omer Onan for Kerem Tunceri, and Kaya Peker for Mehmet Okur, was just the spark the home team needed. After Kaspars Kambala earned his third foul and a seat on the bench, Mehmet Okur came off the sideline and helped Efes gain a ten point advantage in the 18th minute, 36-26. The final two minutes did not see a lot of scoring as Efes held on and went into the locker rooms with a 38-28 lead.
Efes once again came out of the half sluggish as they went scoreless through the first three minutes and allowed Charleroi back in the game. Charleroi's early 0-4 run ended with an inside drive by John Jerome that cut the score 38-32, then Efes woke up. Impressive play by the duo of Kambala and Saulius Stombergas (who ended with nine points in the period), and the help of consecutive Charleroi turnovers and offensive fouls, reestablished Efes' lead to double-digits in the 25th minute at 45-32. Arda Vekiloglu also was a big contributor for Efes adding five points to give them a 14-point lead at the end of the period, 58-44.
In the final period, Charleroi tried to fight back but Efes wouldn't budge. The game turned into a two-on-two with Arda Vekiloglu and Kaspars Kambala battling the Belgian duo of Roger Huggins and John Jerome. After five minutes, the home team had extended their lead by two, 68-52, and Kambala's free-throws in the 38th minute gave Efes their largest lead, 74-54. Charleroi wasn't quite done yet. Ronald Ellis, Louis Rowe and John Jerome fought hard for the Belgians and were able to slash away at the lead but it proved to be too little too late as Efes hung on to win 78-65.
Wednesday, February 6, 2002