Efes Pilsen edged Armani Jeans Milano 82-74
Efes Pilsen held serve again on its new court, Sinan Erdem Arena in Istanbul, by stopping Armani Jeans Milano 82-74 on Wednesday to break their tie in Group D. Its second home win in as many weeks gives Efes a 2-1 record that will be good for a second-place tie with the loser Thursday between so-far undefeated Union Olimpija and Panathinaikos. Milano dropped to 1-2. Great shooting in what was a wide-open game provided the difference for Efes, which made 60% of its two-point shots (20 for 33) and 55% of its three-pointers (10 of 18). Igor Rakocevic led five Efes scorers in double figures with 17 points. Kerem Tunceri hit 3 of 3 shots from downtown to score 15, while Kerem Gonlum added 13, Bostjan Nachbar and Lawrence Roberts 11 each. Ibby Jaaber paced Milano with 19 points, while David Hawkins had 18 and Morris Finley 11. The visitors did not lead after the first basket, but cut the difference to 3 points twice in the third quarter without being able to get closer.
A put-back of his second offensive rebound by Marijonas Petravicius got Milano on the scoreboard first, but Gonlum bettered him with a drop-step basket plus free throw and an open another layup at 5-2. Hawkins drove to get Milano closer, but both Tunceri and Gonlum again found easy baskets to keep Efes in charge at 9-4. Bootsy Thornton, Week 2's MVP, upped the lead with free throws before Finley hit a short jumper and Petravicius another layup. But soon Rakocevic joined the Efes scorers in a big way, hitting back-to-back shots from downtown for the biggest lead yet, 17-8. Gonlum went outside for his next basket, too, and when Rakocevic passed cross-court to Tunceri for a triple, Efes had an 11-0 run. Jaaber ended Milano's slide with an inbounds layup for a 22-10 finish to the first quarter.
Big men Mason Rocca for the guests and Roberts for Efes exchanged baskets to open the second quarter before Jaaber's three-point strike from the top of the arc got the difference back to single digits, 24-15, for Milano. Roberts responded with a spinning hook, but Jaaber matched it with a shorter jumper before Sinan Guler found Nachbar for a triple to keep Efes up 26-17. A series of pinball plays ended with Jaaber burying a fastbreak triple, but Guler came the other way and drilled his own from the arc. Jaaber went to the hole next for a layup at 31-22 as only a timeout slowed the pace of the previous few minutes. Good ball movement produced an open three-pointer for Tunceri, giving Efes a 35-22 advantage. On a single possession, thanks to an intentional foul, Hawkins trimmed 2 points off the difference at the foul line and Andrea Melli drop-stepped for a reverse layup-plus-free throw to get Milano back in the game. When Jaaber stole and scored after a timeout, it was suddenly 36-29. Free throws for Efes were offset by Mancinelli's fastbreak layup before Nikola Vujcic and Rocca exchanged inside baskets. Tunceri hit a great turnaround baseline jumper, restoring a double-digit lead at 43-33 for Efes just in time for the half.
Finley and Hawkins came out of the break on fire, combining for 4 baskets that were only interrupted by a three-pointer from Thornton as Milano quickly pulled back into the game at 46-43, forcing an Efes timeout. Gonlum's huge block on Petravicius kept things from getting worse for Efes, as Rakocevic then split the defenders for a nifty layup high off the backboard. But Finley wasn't finished. His triple cut the difference to 49-46, only to see Rakocevic get 3 points of his own the hard way. The scoring heated up again, with Hawkins dunking and driving, while Rakocevic and Cenk Aykol answered for Efes. Nachbar's long two-pointer, free throws by Akyol and a triple to beat the shot clock by Roberts made it 63-54, meaning that Efes had dodged Milano's rally. After a timeout, Roberts launched again from deep, and was copied this time by Nachbar on the buzzer as Efes reached the third-quarter break with a whopping 69-55 advantage.
Jonas Maciulis and Rakocevic traded baskets to start the final quarter, and as the time dwindled with Milano missing a lot of open three-pointers, Efes was more than happy to keep it that way. Maciulis finally broke the logjam with a third-chance triple, but Rakocevic answered with a driving layup seconds later, keeping a 75-60 scoreboard with less than 6 minutes left. Rocca's 5 points in a row cut the difference again to 10 points, 75-65, but also took time. And when offensive rebounds gave Efes repeat possessions, Tunceri punctuated the victory with an in-your-face triple at 78-65. Rocca's next layup was followed by Hawkins hitting from downtown on a broken play to make it 78-70 in the next-to-last minute. After a timeout, Guler fed Nachbar for a layup at 80-70, which held up despite Jaaber's late triple to send the crowd in Istanbul home happy for the seocnd week in a row.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010