Maccabi Electra outlasted Anadolu Efes 72-79
Maccabi Electra took the battle atop the Turkish Airlines Euroleague regular season Group C standings by edging Anadolu Efes 72-79 in Istanbul, Turkey on Thursday night. Maccabi became the first team to win a Euroleague game in Sinan Erdem Arena - home of the 2012 Final Four - this season and improved to 3-1 in Group C. Efes dropped to 2-2 and registered its second home loss in this group. Jordan Farmar paced the winners with 18 points. David Blu added 15 while Sofoklis Schortsanitis and Lior Eliyahu each had 12 for Maccabi. Sasha Vujacic led Efes with 21 points while Stanko Barac added 17. A 0-6 run that Shawn James capped with a dunk allowed Maccabi to get a 13-14 lead after 10 minutes. Schortsanitis shined in the second quarter, allowing the guests to boost their margin to 35-38 at halftime. Blu took over after the break and got some help from Eliyahu, Farmar and Devin Smith for a six-point margin, 53-59, at the end of the third quarter. A three-pointer by Vujacic tied it at 70-70 with 2 minutes to go but Blu, Tal Burstein and Farmar combined for 9-of-10 free throws in crunch time to lead Maccabi to a very valuable road win.
Efes surprised everyone by placing twin point guards - Kerem Tunceri and youngster Dogus Balbay - in its starting lineup. Barac got the hosts going with a close basket and managed to stop Schortsanitis early in the game. Tunceri added a six-meter jumper and soon scored in transition for a 6-1 Efes lead. Ersan Ilyasova buried an off-balance shot but Eliyahu quickly answers with an easy basket in transition. Farmar scored off a midcourt steal, as Maccabi changed its strategy without Schortsanitis on the floor. Barac scored around the basket and even when Farmar answered from downtown, a layup-plus-foul by Vujacic restored a 13-8 Efes lead. Blu scored in penetration, as Maccabi adjusted its defense with a more physical lineup on the floor. Farmar took over with a driving layup, as Efes kept missing open shots from downtown. Theo Papaloukas fed James for a dunk that gave Maccabi its first lead, 13-14, after 10 minutes.
Vujacic hit free throws early in the second quarter but Blu matched those with a baseline jumper and James added free throws for a 15-18 Maccabi edge. Ermal Kuqo stepepd up with a layup but Schorstanitis answered in the same way. Barac came off the bench and immediately hit foul shots. Maccabi kept struggling to get Schortsanitis involved and a three-pointer by Cenk Akyol put Efes back ahead, 22-20. Farmar stepped up with a driving layup and fed Eliyahu for an easy basket but a jumper by Barac tied it at 24-24. Schortsanitis scored twice in the paint but a running jumper by Barac and a big triple by Ilyasova gave the hosts a 29-28 edge. Schortsanitis and Oyahon split free throws and a finger roll layup by Eliyahu made the hosts stop the game at 29-32. Burstein hit a jumper in the lane and Eliyahu added a layup in transition for a six-point Maccabi edge, 30-36. Akyol struck from downtown and Esteban Batista added a layup but Burstein fed James for a dunk that fixed the halftime score at 35-38.
Blu struck from downtown right after the break but Efes quickly found a go-to guy in Ilyasva, who stepped up with consecutive layups. A follow-up layup by Blu soon gave Maccabi a 39-43 edge. Balbay shined with a high-flying layup that Schortsanitis erased with another close baskets. Vujacic sank free throws but Burstein erased it with a driving layup and an unstoppable Blu boosted the guests' lead to 43-49. Efes could not circulate the ball well and a corner three-pointer by Farmar broke the game open, 43-52. The hosts improved their defense off a timeout but could not find answers in the other end until Vujacic took over with back-to-back triples to make Maccabi stop the game, 49-52. Eliyahu shined with an alleyoop layup but Vlado Ilievski matched it with a driving basket. Richard Hendrix scored down low and Smith bettered Batista's off-balance layup with a corner three-pointer, good for a 53-59 score after 30 minutes.
Both teams struggled to score early in the fourth quarter until Oyahon took over with a driving layup - and the free throw that came with it. Vujacic kept pacing Efes with a long jumper and Akyol buried another three-pointer to bring the hosts back to life, 58-62. Schorsanitis dived for a loose ball and shined with a reverse layup in the other end but Vujacic buried one from downtown to make it a three-point game, 61-64, with 6 minutes left. Blu gave Maccabi some fresh air with a backdoor layup but Tunceri scored in penetration. Eliyahu made foul shots but Barac beat the shot clock buzzer with a layup and hit a mid-range jumper for a 67-68 Efes deficit with under 3 minutes to go. Farmar sank a jumper but a three-pointer by Vujacic tid it at 70-70. Farmar kept pacing Maccabi in crunch time with 4-of-4 free throws, as Efes missed critical shots down the stretch. More foul shots by Burstein allowed Maccabi to seal the outcome, 70-76, as the guests got back home with a good-as-gold road win with the home to get back to Sinan Erdem Arena in spring.
Thursday, November 10, 2011