Efes Pilsen had to battle all 40 minutes to register its first Group B victory by downing Armani Jeans Milano 66-71 on the road on Thursday. Efes Pilsen overcame an early deficit and managed to keep a slim lead throughout the closing minutes to escape from Milano with a valuable win. Kaya Peker led the winners with a double-double of 20 points and 11 rebounds, but the man of the game was18-year-old phenom Cenk Akyol, who scored 15 points on 6-for-7 shooting, much of it in key moments. Ender Arslan added 10 points for Efes. Massimo Bulleri led Armani Jeans with 12 points despite foul trouble, while Joseph Blair added 10 points and 9 rebounds. Returning to the Euroleague after an eight-year absence, Milano challenged for the win until Arslan and Akyol proved calm from the free throw line, while Efes Pilsen's trademark defense did the rest.
Efes Pilsen had to battle all 40 minutes to register its first win in its Euroleague Basketball season by downing Armani Jeans Milano 66-71 on the road in Group B on Thursday night. Efes Pilsen overcame an early deficit and managed to keep a slim lead throughout the closing minutes to escape from Milano with a valuable win. Kaya Peker led the winners with a double-double of 20 points and 11 rebounds, but Efes Pilsen got a solid contribution from 18-year-old phenom Cenk Akyol, who scored 15 points on 6-for-7 shooting. Erden Arslan had 10 points for Efes. Massimo Bulleri led Armani Jeans with 12 points while Joseph Blair added 10 points and 9 rebounds for the hosts, who returned to the top competition at clubs level after an eight-year absence. Milano managed to reduce its deficit to 59-60 midway through the final period, but Arslan and Akyol stayed calm in the free throw line, while Efes Pilsen's trademark defense did the rest.
Kaya Peker opened fire with a dunk assisted by Marko Popovic, while Giacomo Galanda chipped in 5 points in a row for Milano's first slim advantage. Popovic from mid-range gave Efes a 5-7 margin before Bulleri took over the game with 10 straight points capped by back-to-back triples for a 17-9 Milano lead. Peker and Niksa Prkacin of Efes challenged Milano's zone, while Dante Calabria did the same to that of the visitors, nailing his first long-distance attempt for a double-digit lead, 25-14. Henry Domercant stole a ball for Efes and from the foul line reduced the difference to 25-16 after 10 minutes.
Efes increased its defensive intensity after Peker and veteran Claudio Coldebella exchanged baskets early in the second quarter. Prkacin made a jump-hook and drew a charge, while Gonlum nailed free throws that made it 22-27. Milano couldn't score, but Prkacin found easy points underneath assisted by Ender Arslan. Dusan Vukcevic helped end Milano's drought with a reverse lay-up, then Daniele Cavaliero's free throws made it 31-25. Milano's zone press troubled Efes, but soon Peker raced in the open court to convert a three-point-play for 31-28. Efes forced a 24-second violation on Milano before Peker capped a 4-14 run by putting the guests ahead, for the first time since the game's opening basket, on the way to a 33-34 halftime score.
Peker started the second half strong, converting an offensive board, but Galanda buried an open three-pointer and assisted Preston Shumpert for anlay-up giving to put Milano ahead 40-38. The teams exchanged baskets toward the middle of the quarter, when Arslan forced Bulleri's fourth foul. Peker remained unstoppable and, despite a triple by Coldebella of Milanoa, scored from mid-range to tie 47-47 in minute 27. That's when Aykol emerged with 7 consecutive points, the last 2 on the buzzer, to give Efes its biggest cushion of the game, 50-54, after 30 minutes.
Diego Fajardo and Akyol traded easy points to open the final quarter, but Milano was hurt when Bulleri came back and suffered his fifth foul after few seconds. Antonio Granger scored on a power lay-up for a 54-58 score before both teams went cold shooting. Vukcevic changed that by shooting Milano within 57-58 with 5 minutes left. His second reverse layup preserved a one-point margin, at 59-60, but Peker answered down low for a 59-62 score with 2:30 left. Akyol highlighted his amazing performance with a shining assist for Gonlum at 60-64. Blair slammed the ball in the middle of the zone, but Arslan and Granger answered with free throws to keep Efes ahead. When Calabria scored from mid range, but missed the additional free throw, it was 66-69, but Akyol capped the scoring another free throw that sent the visitors home as winners.
Thursday, November 3, 2005