When the buzzer sounded for halftime at Sinan Erdem Arena for the first Istanbul derby of the season, the respective head coaches of Anadolu Efes and Fenerbahce had important messages to deliver. Visiting Fenerbahce was in total control of the game with a commanding 38-52 lead. At that point, Coach Obradovic's charges had shot 18 for 23 on two-pointers (78.3%) and delivered 16 assists with just 4 turnovers, while Efes had made only 7 of 17 twos (41.2%), dished 7 assists and committed 8 turnovers.
Despite his team's superb start, Obradovic issued a warning in the Fenerbahce locker room: "I told my players that our defense in the second quarter was very bad and that it was very necessary to start with energy and to understand that Efes is a team that never gives up, to be ready and to play the same way we played the first quarter."
In the Efes locker room, Coach Ataman had a different message. "[In the first half], they killed us physically. They played aggressive and we didn't make good picks, we didn't rebound, and they played easy. At halftime, we talked about playing on the same level and fighting. And from the first ball in the second half, we started to play aggressive defense and we didn't let them play easy on offense."
Efes dominated the third quarter 28-13 to take a slim lead. In those 10 minutes, the hosts played energetic defense to shut down the paint and Fenerbahce settled for outside shots, of which it made only 1 of 7 from behind the arc. At the other end, Efes was energized and made 8 of 12 two-point shots and 3 of 4 triples. And once the momentum had completely shifted, it remained that way.
Adrien Moerman and Rodrigue Beaubois were among the big heroes for the winners both for big numbers and timely shots. After missing all 4 of his shots and collecting just 2 rebounds in the first two quarters, Moerman scored 15 second-half points with only 2 missed shots and grabbed 8 rebounds in the second half. Beaubois only played 5 minutes in the first half and committed 2 fouls. He was unleashed in the second when he scored 12 of his team-high 17 points and dished all of his 4 assists. Those two were not alone as virtually all of the Efes players stepped it up after the break as Coach Ataman requested and Efes pulled away late to beat Fenerbahce.
Thursday's victory was a statement win and the rest of the league has no choice but to take note; after roaring back from 16 down to beat Fenerbahce, it is clear that when at its best, Efes is among the strongest teams in the competition.