Larkin leads Efes to record tally in Vitoria
Shane Larkin scored 28 of his 30 points after halftime and Anadolu Efes Istanbul held off several late TD Systems Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz rallied to claim a 101-111 overtime victory at Buesa Arena on Thursday night. In doing so, Efes set a club scoring record, improved its record to 22-11 and edged closer to securing home-court advantage in the playoffs. Baskonia, which allowed the most points in its history, saw a four-game losing streak snapped and fell to 18-15 at the far end of the playoff zone. Krunoslav Simon added 21 points for the winners, Vasilije Micic tallied 16 points and 5 assists, Adrien Moerman scored 14 with 8 rebounds and Sertac Sanli had 12 points and 4 blocked shots. Achille Polonara paced Baskonia with 23 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists, Rokas Giedratitis scored 21, Alec Peters compiled 15 points and 9 rebounds, Pierria Henry had 15 points and 8 assists and Luca Vildoza recorded 14 points – including the triple that forced overtime – and 6 assists.
Sanli opened the scoring with a slam before Ilimane Diop got Baskonia going with a triple. The teams traded shots with mid-range jumpers by Rodrigue Beaubois and Henry making it 9-9 after 5 minutes. Micic's first points put Efes up 4, but Youssoupha Fall had a block on one end and a basket at the other to keep Baskonia close. Sanli reached 8 first-quarter points and Simon added a three for a 13-20 advantage. Peters netted a tip-in and a long jumper to close the gap to 19-22 after 10 minutes. Micic and Adrien Moerman extended the Efes edge to 8 early in the second quarter. A steal and layup by Micic gave the visitors a double-digit margin. James Anderson added a three and Micic scored again to complete a 2-14 run that made it 21-36. Vildoza revived Baskonia with a three, a steal and an unsportsmanlike foul from Micic. He added free throws and a layup before a slam by Peters prompted an Efes timeout. The momentum remained with the home side as Henry went coast to coast for a layup and Polonara nailed a three to cap an 11-0 run that made it 39-40. Beaubois responded from downtown for Efes and an unsportsmanlike foul committed by Henry led to a Singleton free throw and a 41-46 halftime lead.
Peters drew the hosts within 1 early in the second half, but a three by Simon kept Efes ahead. Peters hit back from downtown and his steal triggered a fastbreak that Polonara finished with a sunk to make it 52-53. The cat-and-mouse game continued with Larkin keeping Efes in the driver's seat and Polonara keeping Baskonia hot on the visitors' heels. Free throws by Zoran Dragic ended the third quarter with the score 63-65. Dragic's step-back jumper tied the game early in the fourth. Back-to-back threes by Larkin prompted a Baskonia timeout at 65-71. Even though Baskonia continued to score, it was unable to stop Efes, which netted points on four straight possessions to stretch the lead to 69-76 on a Simon triple. Polonara changed things with a steal and a put-back before Vildoza made it 75-76 midway through the fourth quarter. An Efes timeout changed little as Giedraitis's three gave Baskonia its first lead since the opening minutes. He added free throws to make it 80-76. Simon and Micic responded with back-to-back threes to restore an Efes lead. Polonara hit back from downtown for an 83-82 edge with 2 and a half minutes to go. Henry added a baseline slam, but Larkin soon tied it again, 85-85. Sanli fouled out and Peters scored in the paint, but Larkin's fifth three of the night gave Efes the lead with 50.2 seconds on the clock. It came down to the final possession in which Vildoza drilled a three to tie it at 92-92 and force overtime.
Larkin remained hot with a four-point play to start the extra session. Moerman followed with a basket-plus-foul. Layups by Henry and Giedraitis got Baskonia within 96-98. Larkin answered with a jumper, Moerman scored on the break and Chris Singleton's three-pointer all but sealed the outcome at 96-106 with 1:26 remaining. Baskonia had finally run out of gas and Efes chalked up another tough victory.
At halftime, Efes led by 5, but Shane Larkin had done little against his former team. He had just 2 points in 11:28. Larkin warmed up with 8 points in the third quarter before exploding for 12 points on 4-of-4 three-point shooting in the fourth quarter. He started the overtime period with a four-point play and added another 4 points to finish with a season-high 30 on 6-of-9 shooting from behind the arc.
In addition to outrebounding Baskonia 36-43, Efes prevailed thanks to its excellent three-point shooting. Efes made more than double the number of threes that Baskonia did, shooting 16 for 36 (44.4%). The home team was 7 for 31 (22.6%) from behind the arc.
Did you know?
This game marked the sixth time in the last seven clashes between these two teams that the visiting side has won. The aberration was a 96-85 victory for Efes at home in Round 10 of the 2018-19 season.
Baskonia will visit Valencia Basket in its regular season finale on Thursday, April 8, in what may be a crucial battle for a playoff spot. Efes's Round 34 game will be the next day at AX Armani Exchange Milan.
Thursday, April 1, 2021