Sensational Micic leads Efes to comeback win in Athens
A stunning performance from Vasilije Micic gave Anadolu Efes Istanbul a comeback 77-80 victory over Panathinaikos OPAP Athens in a highly competitive showdown on Friday night. Panathinaikos led for almost the entirety of the first half, protecting a series of small leads with determined defense and robust rebounding. But Micic inspired an Efes turnaround in the second half, scoring 12 points in 6 minutes after the break to give his team a lead which rose to double-digits and was never overcome. Micic finished with a career-high 33 points, including 17 in the third quarter, and Krunoslav Simon (12 points) was the only other Efes player to score in double figures. New signing Shelvin Mack led Panathinaikos with 18 points, while Georgios Papagiannis scored 16 on 7-of-8 field goal shooting. Ioannis Papapetrou scored 12 points and Aaron White added 11. Efes improves to 4-3, while Panathinaikos drops to 2-4.
Papagiannis started on fire with a block and a driving score, and Papapetrou’s three-pointer kept Efes ahead. Micic scored twice for a 7-7 tie, but Marcus Foster and Papapetrou responded for Panathinaikos. Tibor Pleiss hit a baby hook and Howard Sant-Roos and Simon netted from deep, before Papapetrou stayed hot with a mid-range floater and White dunked for 18-14. Micic drove to layup and Pleiss made free throws for another tie, but Dinos Mitoglou’s putback helped make it 22-21 at the end of the first. Mitoglou scored again from close range to open the second quarter, and Mack’s triple extended the lead to 27-21. Bugrahan Tuncer responded from deep but Mitoglou’s reverse and Papagiannis’s alley-oop layup kept the host ahead, 31-26. Dogus Balbay kept Efes close in penetration and from deep, before Tuncer and Balbay again both burst to the basket to layup for 35-33. Mack struck another triple and Papagiannis drained a long two, but Micic beat the half-time buzzer from deep to make it 40-36 at the break. Micic was a one-man team early in the second half, scoring twice inside and once from deep, but White’s dunk and free throws kept the host in front, 46-43. Micic penetrated to score yet again, and then hit from deep for a 48-50 lead. Mack scored twice to reignite Panathinaikos, but the unstoppable Micic nailed another triple and Adrien Moerman’s layup made it 54-59 with ten minutes left. Balbay and – inevitably – Micic extended the lead early in the fourth, and Simon’s floater made it 55-65. White, Eleftherios Bochoridis and Papapetrou scored inside to keep Panathinaikos hoping at 61-67, but a three-point play from Simon kept Efes safe. White drained a triple, but James Anderson stepped up with two scores. Mack pulled it back to 69-75 inside the last two minutes, but Moerman’s hook and Anderson’s layup were just enough to seal the deal as the final seconds were played out with a series of free throws and Papapetrou missed from the halfway line on the buzzer.
Beaubois joins list of Efes absentees
Already without star shooter Shane Larkin, Efes was dealt another early blow in the backcourt when Rodrigue Beaubois collided with Marcus Foster and suffered a deep cut to the face. The French guard did not return, but Micic’s heroics made sure that didn’t matter in the end.
Long losing sequence broken
The victory broke a long losing sequence in Athens for Efes. The Turkish team had not won at Panathinaikos since 2006, losing ten consecutive games in the process.
Host controls the glass
Panathinaikos came into the game as the league’s best rebounding team and lived up to that billing, winning the battle of the boards 37-29 including 12 on the offensive end.
Mack makes strong debut
Panathinaikos gave a debut to new signing Shelvin Mack, and the former AX Armani Exchange Milan guard made an impressive start by draining a pair of three-pointers in the second quarter. He finished with a team-high and personal best 18 points,.
Efes returns home to take on FC Bayern Munich to start next week’s double header, while Panathinaikos travels to Spain to visit Valencia Basket the same evening.
Friday, November 13, 2020