There have not many more dominant performances this season than the one reigning Turkish Airlines EuroLeague champion Anadolu Efes Istanbul put on display on Friday night. Efes registered just its second win of the season, but did it in a stunning fashion, blowing past Zalgiris Kaunas 94-60.
Since coach Ergin Ataman took over on the team bench in December 2017, Efes has won by a bigger margin only twice. The 34-point difference is also the second-largest winning margin in the competition this season. Efes accomplished it by doing just about everything well.
"We shared the ball, we played great basketball, like a champion," Ataman said after the win. "We remembered that we are the champions."
"We remembered that we are the champions." ~ Ergin Ataman
Efes shot 61.9% inside the arc while knocking down 11 triples on 47.8% shooting. Efes also outrebounded its opponents 44-28 and only one team this season has had more assists than the 26 Efes dished on Friday night.
And rather than having one player dominate, it was a team effort where four different guards - Krunoslav Simon, Vasilije Micic, Elijah Bryant and Shane Larkin – each had 4 assists.
"It was very important for us that tonight with Simon and Micic coming back to the team, we had more players at the guard positions," Ataman pointed out. "This is very important for our basketball that we played in the last three years."
Simon returned to action earlier in the week and Micic had missed the last two games. Both players played 20 minutes, scored 11 points apiece, shot 2-for-2 from three-point range and dished 4 assists, with Simon pulling down 5 rebounds and Micic grabbing 3.
Efes played up-tempo basketball and had a scoring balance with big men Filip Petrusev and Tibor Pleiss combining for 31 points and 13 rebounds. Few teams would have answers for this level of play, just like few teams have managed to find answers over the past three seasons.
It would suggest the numbers in Efes's win column could soon see a rapid rise and Coach Ataman certainly seems confident we will be watching more of this kind of Efes, which was firing on all cylinders, in weeks to come.
"We started bad with many problems, many injuries, but we will come back soon."