Anadolu Efes Istanbul didn’t miss a beat as it streaked to yet another victory by rolling past Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade on Thursday. Shane Larkin shined yet again, but he was hardly alone as he got help all game.
Efes was held scoreless for the final 6 minutes of the game, which made the final score look closer than it was with Zvezda's cosmetics ending up making it a 64-75 win for the visitor from Turkey. Carried by Larkin’s 18 points and 5 assists, Efes laid the foundation for the victory - the team’s fifth win in its last six games for a 6-4 record - with a strong third quarter.
After watching Zvezda chop a 14-point deficit down to 3 points in the second quarter, Efes shook loose of the hosts. Chris Singleton, James Anderson and Adrien Moerman all drained triples in a 3-17 surge that turned a 45-50 game into a 48-67 blowout.
It was fitting that those three players came up with big shots in the third quarter as it showed Efes's depth all game despite playing without Rodrigue Beaubois, Tibor Pleiss, Vasilije Micic and Bryant Dunston. Bugrahan Tuncer nailed a pair of three-pointers among 8 points in the second quarter - after having scored only 11 points and making only 4 shots in his first seven EuroLeague games this season. Dogus Balbay added 6 points on 2 three-pointers after having scored a total of 14 points in his previous six games.
Moerman was there all game for Efes as he continues his strong recent stretch. He tallied 17 points along with 9 rebounds and he now has scored at least 14 points in three of his last five games. Krunoslav Simon meanwhile had “only” 11 points, which evens the third-lowest output of the season for the veteran, though he dished out 4 assists.
"In the end, what’s important is we are missing four of our main players, but my team always plays the same basketball. So I am proud of the guys," Efes coach Ergin Ataman said. "When they are on the court it doesn’t matter what the situation is, what the difficulties, everybody plays with hustle and everybody plays with game discipline. It's a very important victory for us."
Most importantly because it showed what Efes can do even when it is short-handed.