Late comeback gives Efes road win over Gran Canaria
Anadolu Efes Istanbul completed a remarkable fourth-quarter comeback to claim a thrilling 90-94 victory over Herbalife Gran Canaria on Thursday night. With the victory, Efes pushed its record to 4-2, while the hosts dropped to 1-5. Efes was behind for most of the game and trailed by 10 points with less than five minutes remaining, but Gran Canaria's offense stalled at just the wrong moment and Krunoslav Simon netted a nerveless three-pointer with 26 seconds remaining to take the win. Simon led the scoring for Efes with 18 points, while Bryant Dunston had a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds. There were also significant scoring contributions from Vasilije Micic (17), James Anderson (13), Tibor Pleiss (12) and Rodrigue Beaubois (11). D.J. Strawberry led Gran Canaria with 19 points and 7 assists. Eulis Baez scored 14 points and Christopher Evans had 12.
A steal and slam from Micic was the highlight as Efes raced ahead early, but Gran Canaria came back to lead through a triple and alley-oop layup from Evans. Kim Tillie struck from deep and Strawberry threw down a slam to complete a 14-2 run, but Simon and Anderson scored threes for Efes and it was 25-24 after 10 minutes. Anzejs Pasecniks threw down two alley-oops to stretch the home team's lead early in the second, but Micic scored 5 consecutive points to tighten it up again. Evans pushed Gran Canaria further ahead by scoring 7 quick points, including 5 free throws, but Micic continued his strong first half with a pair of identical driving layups before Brock Motum knocked down a three and Simon beat the halftime buzzer for a 52-50 score at the break. Beaubois scored the first 5 points of the second half, but the hosts went back ahead through 4 points from Baez. Then Strawberry made a three-point play and hit a triple for a 65-57 lead before a couple of Dunston dunks brought Efes back yet again. Oliver's triple made it 73-70 after three quarters, and he scored three more baskets early in the fourth to stretch the lead to 80-72. Efes responded with a three-point play from Simon and an Adrien Moerman fastbreak slam. A series of free throws sent Gran Canaria up by double digits for the first time, but still, Efes wasn't dead as Beaubois led another revival. Simon's free throws made it 88-87 inside the final two minutes before Baez and Pleiss traded close-range finishes. Then Simon's triple sent Efes ahead, and free throws from Micic sealed the deal.
Late slow-down kills Gran Canaria
The tone for a high-scoring game was set straight away when Anderson netted the first basket of the game – a three-pointer – with just 6 seconds elapsed. The points continued to flow with both teams reaching the half-century before the break, but Gran Canaria eventually stalled at just the wrong time by scoring only one field goal in the last eight minutes.
Ataman rolls the dice with foul trouble
Efes ran into foul trouble early in the second half when four key players – Dunston, Micic, Anderson and Dogus Balbay – all reached three fouls. Coach Ergin Ataman kept faith in them, though, and they initially avoided further fouls until Balbay got a couple of quick ones to reach five midway through the final quarter, soon followed to the bench by Dunston. By then, Simon was also on four fouls but Ataman kept him in…and was rewarded when he scored 5 points in the last two minutes including the game-winner.
Oliver lights it up
After becoming the oldest player to score in his EuroLeague debut earlier in the season, Oliver showed he is still evergreen by exploding into action late in the game. Having not previously scored, he finished the third quarter with a three-pointer, then added another at the start of the fourth followed by a pair of two-pointers. That made 10 points in 2:05, and although it ultimately wasn't enough for victory, the 40-year-old showed he still has what it takes.
Efes will look to advance to 5-2 with a home game against Panathinaikos OPAP Athens next Friday evening, while Gran Canaria will search for its second win with a home game against Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv.
Thursday, November 8, 2018