Strong second half leads Efes past Maccabi
Anadolu Efes Istanbul gained a huge road victory with a 71-79 triumph at Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv in a battle loaded with playoff significance at Menora Mivtachim Arena. The visiting team strengthened its grip on fourth place with a 17-9 record and is now on the verge of playoff qualification, while Maccabi remains in the bottom half of the standings at 12-14. Maccabi led nearly the whole of the first half, but Efes was strong after the break and restricted the host to just 30 second-half points. Vasilije Micic led the scoring for the winning team with 15 points, while Shane Larkin, Rodrigue Beaubois and Adrien Moerman all scored 13 and Tibor Pleiss added 12. The game's leading scorer was Maccabi's Tarik Black with 18 points and Johnny O'Bryant posted 13 points and 7 rebounds.
The defenses were on top early, with only two baskets in the first 3 minutes. Maccabi stretched its lead to 8-2 as Efes was shut down on offense before Beaubois scored twice to get the visiting team moving. Black and Bryant Dunston both scored twice towards the end of the first, which finished 18-13. After a thunderous slam by Brock Motum opened the second quarter scoring, a pair of John DiBartolomeo triples kept Maccabi ahead. Alex Tyus netted inside twice for a 31-22 lead, but Pleiss and Micic scored from deep to pull it back in a 2-8 run. O'Bryant scored inside and out, but Beaubois's triple made in a 1-point game. Scottie Wilbekin answered from downtown before Kruno Simon beat the buzzer with a layup for 41-39 at the break. Angelo Caloiaro made a corner three to start the second half, but consecutive baskets from Moerman sparked Efes and the Frenchman then sank a triple for Efes's first lead, 48-50. Micic twice drove to the basket to make it 52-57, but Black scored twice in quick succession for a 58-58 tie at the end of the third. Baskets were evenly traded at the start of the fourth before Moerman and Larkin both scored twice and then Larkin added a triple for a 62-71 lead midway through the quarter. A three-pointer from O'Bryant gave Maccabi hope, but Efes's defense held firm for a huge road win.
Efes to seal playoff berth on Friday?
Efes could mathematically secure qualification for the playoffs on Friday night; the Turkish team needs either KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz to lose at home to Buducnost VOLI Podgorica or Panathinaikos OPAP Athens to be beaten at CSKA Moscow.
The outcome saw a pair of streaks snapped; it was the first road win for Efes after three straight losses, dating back to a Round 17 win at Zalgiris Kaunas. And it was the first home defeat for Maccabi after seven straight wins, ending a sequence which started in Round 13 against Khimki Moscow Region.
Efes joins 200 club
The game saw Efes reach a milestone by gaining its 200th victory in the EuroLeague this century, becoming the ninth team to do so. Strangely, the club is now 200-199 so a defeat would have seen a different kind of milestone. CSKA Moscow leads the way with 351 victories.
Milestone and team-high for Simon
There was also an individual milestone within the Efes ranks as Krunoslav Simon reached 500 career rebounds. In fact, he also registered his highest rebounding tally in Efes colors, taking 9 boards. He now has a career total of 506.
Efes faces a tough test at home with a visit from high-flying CSKA Moscow, while Maccabi has a must-win home game against fast-improving Zalgiris Kaunas.
Thursday, March 14, 2019