Efes shuts down Panathinaikos to move closer to playoffs
Anadolu Efes Istanbul moved another step closer to locking up a playoff berth as it proved too strong for Panathinaikos OPAP Athens 85-65 at home on Thursday. Vasilije Micic led the way with 21 points and 7 assists as Efes improved to 20-11 in its last home game of the regular season. Bryant Dunston added 15 and Shane Larkin and Rodrigue Beaubois both chipped in 13 points for Efes, which was led by assistant coach Yakup Sekizkok in place of head coach Ergin Ataman. Efes will clinch a playoff spot if both Valencia Basket and TD Systems Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz lose their games this week. Panathinaikos had already been eliminated from postseason contention and fell to 10-19. Mario Hezonja paced the Greens with 14 points with Zach Auguste and Dinos Mitoglou pitching in 10 points each.
After Mitoglou started the scoring for the visitors, Micic scored Efes’s first 6 points and the lead was 8-2. Howard Sant-Roos’s steal and basket got Panathinaikos within 12-10 before Micic completed an and-one to push his point total to 11 and a 15-10 Efes lead. Dunston came on and picked up 6 points for Efes while Eleftherios Bochoridis had 4 points at the other end. Efes was up 24-21 after 10 minutes. Larkin started the second quarter with a three-pointer and Beaubois pushed the margin to 31-23. Beaubois drained 2 triples of his own and another basket to move to 10 points and a 41-27 advantage. Ioannis Papapetrou knocked down a three-pointer to end Efes’s 10-0 run and added another triple to pull Panathinaikos within 41-33. But the score was 43-33 at the break.
Beaubois opened the second half with a three-pointer with Hezonja hitting a triple at the other end. Micic added an and-one and a layup, but Hezonja twice answered and Auguste added a block and 3 points to keep Panathinaikos close at 53-45. Dunston finished with Efes’s final 7 points in the third quarter for a 60-49 cushion after 30 minutes. Micic’s three-pointer to begin the final frame gave Efes its biggest lead of 14 points (63-49). Hezonja managed a triple at the other end, but Chris Singleton also hit from deep and Tibor Pleiss pitched in 4 points as the hosts' advantage grew to 74-55 with 4 minutes left to play. Aaron White knocked down a triple as Panathinaikos scored 6 points to pull within 74-61 with under 3 minutes to play. Larkin made sure there would be no comeback with back-to-back triples to finish off the Greens.
Efes supports UN sustainability goals
Efes started an awareness project in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme in Turkey by having its players wear specially designed jerseys in Thursday's game featuring the slogan #TakeAction and the icons of 17 goals that represent a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. The special jerseys, all with the number 17, will be sold through the club's sportswear partner.
Dunston joins 2,000 point club
Bryant Dunston scored 4 points in the first quarter to join the EuroLeague's 2,000-point club. The EuroLeague’s all-time leader in blocked shots ended with 15 points to move to 2,011 total in 218 games for Olympiacos Piraeus and Efes. He is the 42nd player to collect 2,000 points in their EuroLeague career.
Efes shut down the Panathinaikos offense, which was held to 47.6% shooting on two-pointers and 25.0% on three-pointers. The Efes offense was outstanding from close range, making 69.7% of its two-pointers.
Efes will head on the road for the first of three road games to close the regular season, playing at Real Madrid in Spain on Tuesday, March 30. Panathinaikos will return home and take on AX Armani Exchange Milan the same evening.
Thursday, March 25, 2021