Efes downed EA7 Emporio Armani Milan 84-70
Anadolu Efes recorded its third straight victory on Wednesday night at Sinan Erdem Arena in Istanbul by beating EA7 Emporio Armani 84-70 to clinch a Top 16 berth. Efes dominated from start to finish in improving to 5-3 and ensuring a share of second place in Group C at the end of Thursday’s games. Efes started the game with 8 straight points, added a 13-0 run that bridged the first and second quarters and reeled off 11 more unanswered later in the second quarter in building a 45-27 halftime lead. And Armani never got within single figures the rest of the way. Sinan Guler led Efes with 14 points, Sasha Vujacic and Cenk Akyol netted 12 apiece and Esteban Batista scored 10 as part of a well-balanced team effort. Malik Hairston paced Armani with 17 points, Antonis Fotsis and Ioannis Bourousis added 13 each, Stefano Mancinelli scored 11 and Omar Cook tallied 10 points and 6 assists. The loss dropped Milan to 2-6 and left only a miniscule chance for the club to reach the Top 16, which would end as early as Thursday if Partizan beats Spirou.
It was the start Efes hoped for as Vujacic and Kerem Tunceri knocked down early threes. Tunceri then found Stanko Barac down low to make it 8-0. A Stefano Mancinelli fast break layup nearly four minutes into the game represented Milano’s first points. Ersan Ilyasova answered from downtown, but Fotsis attacked the basket for a slam-and-foul as Armani showed signs of life. Cook banked in a jumper to make it 13-7. Then Mancinelli hit a three, Cook did the same and the scoreboard at a silenced Sinan Erdem Arena showed a tie score, 13-13. After a timeout, Vujacic hit from far behind the line to elicit some cheers and Tunceri set up Batista who rocked the rim with a two-handed slam. Vujacic added free throws, Batista overpowered Mancinelli and Ilyasova rejected Hairston at the rim as Efes finished the quarter on a 9-0 run for a 22-13 lead.
Efes remained in total control as Dusko Savanovic crafted a basket in the post and Batista scored on the offensive glass to stretch the run to 13 straight points. Hairston scored and drew a foul and Bourousis made an impact with a basket inside and a pass to Hairston to trim the deficit to 28-19. But a Guler triple kept Efes comfortable ahead. Savanovic connected from downtown too and Akyol did the same to make it a 20-point game, 39-19. Bourousis ended the Armani skid with 2 free throws and Cook hit from behind the arc, but Efes was too strong and Savanovic nailed a mid-range jumper. Fotsis added another triple to make it 43-27, but a Vlado Ilievski jumper made it 45-27 at halftime.
Though Hairston scored the first points of the second half, the Efes shooters remained hot as Ilyasova drained another jumper. Fotsis copied him before Ilyasova shined on the other side with a brilliant block. Guler from the wing and Vujacic on the break made it 51-32. Hairston kept Milan alive with a triple and Mason Rocca scored as well to trim the deficit to 13. Then Hairston made it 54-42 from the line. Batista countered with a post move and foul. The teams traded baskets with the lead floating between 12 and 14 through the end of the quarter, 66-52, on a Guler coast-to-coast layup to beat the buzzer.
Bourousis threw down a follow-dunk before Tunceri made it a 15-point lead with a triple. Ermal Kuqo came in and extended the hosts’ advantage to 73-57. Vujacic knocked down another jumper to stretch the lead to 18 and signal to the fans that it was almost time to celebrate. A pair of baskets by Mancinelli helped make the scoreline more respectable. A three-point play by Guler with just under two minutes to play was the final blow as Efes coasted to the win and the Top 16.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011