Zalgiris sinks Efes for first win this season
Zalgiris Kaunas picked up its first win of the new Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season, and did so on the road by holding off Anadolu Efes Istanbul 79-93 on Wednesday night at Sinan Erdem Dome. Both teams now have 1-1 records. Brandon Davies led the winners with 18 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists, while Leo Westermann had 17 points for Zalgiris. Krunoslav Simon scored 13 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter for Efes.
Zalgiris was the team making the first little run of the night, 0-6 sparked by Thomas Walkup. Westermann hit a three-pointer that put Zalgiris up 11-15, but Vasilije Micic answered with a triple and Dogus Balbay hit one from the left corner to make it 19-19 after 10 minutes. Balabay hit another triple at the start of the second, but Laurynas Birutis had a three-point play and Marius Grigonis nailed a three-pointer to open a 24-29 margin. Neither team could get into a rhythm, with players often going to the free throw line, before Westermann hit a corner three, sparking a 2-13 run that gave Zalgiris a 32-46 halftime advantage. The visitors continued where they left off in the third, as Paulius Jankunas hit a triple and Nate Wolters and Davies scored close range baskets to make it 36-55. Efes stopped the bleeding, but could not cut into the deficit, and Jankunas hit two more jumpers to help increase the margin to 44-67 late in the third. Zalgiris took a 20-point lead into the final quarter, but Efes got hope with aggressive full-court pressure and Simon getting hot. Arturas Milaknis and Aaron White each hit a three-pointer to keep the hosts at bay, 67-81. Efes continued making shots, including a three and a floater from Simon that got the home team within 74-82 with 90 seconds to go, but Westermann drove for a layup to seal the outcome.
The teams were trading blows for the first 16 minutes, and neither team had a lead larger than 5 points until Westermann's triple got Zalgiris going. Westermann scored 7 points, Kavaliauskas added a pair of baskets and assists for Brandon Davies who capped a 2-13 run to end the second quarter and go into the break up by 14 points. A strong start to the third saw Zalgiris increase the margin to 23 points, and there was no coming back for the hosts.
Brandon Davies and Leo Westerman were key pieces in the Zalgiris victory, however important contributions also came from Paulius Jankunas, who scored 7 of his 11 points in the third quarter, and Nate Wolters, who finished the game with 9 points and 7 assists. For Efes, Vasilije Micic and Adrien Moerman scored 14 apiece, and Tibor Pleiss collected 12 points and 7 rebounds in defeat.
Six years after leaving Zalgiris as a teenager, Marius Grigonis has returned as a solid contributor for his EuroLeague debut season. The 24-year old swingman made some important plays in this contest, and finished with respectable line of 7 points without missing any of his three shots, 4 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 assist in little less than 18 minutes on the floor.
Did you notice?
This is fourth consecutive road win for Zalgiris over Efes; the Lithuanian champion has now won in Istanbul by margins of 3, 13, 16 and 14 points. This is also the sixth time in the last seven games that a road team won the game between these two clubs.
The next round is in 48 hours. Zalgiris travels home to host Fenerbahce Istanbul in a rematch of last seasons' EuroLeague Final Four semifinal, and Efes goes on a trip to visit Khimki Moscow Region.
Wednesday, October 17, 2018