Coming off its first Turkish Airlines EuroLeague title, Anadolu Efes Istanbul had a slow start to the season. But the team has been rounding back into form in recent weeks and one of the main protagonists has been its veteran center Tibor Pleiss.
The 32-year old has been instrumental in the success Efes has had, as it won five of the last seven games after opening the season with a 1-5 record.
In those first six games of the season during which the team struggled, the Efes center averaged 6.3 points and 4.2 rebounds. He scored 12 points in one, but had not scored more than 9 points in any of the other games during that stretch, including being held scoreless twice.
However, Pleiss has been a force to be reckoned with ever since. The veteran big man is averaging 12.9 points and 4.9 rebounds over the last seven games and Efes has won five of those to climb from the near-bottom of the standings into the middle of the pack.
The run for Pleiss - and the team - began in Round 7. He collected 17 points and 7 rebounds in just 18 minutes in a win over Zalgiris Kaunas. A week later he scored 13 along with 5 rebounds in a loss against Zenit St Petersburg. He then torched ALBA Berlin for 16 points on 7-for-8 two-point shooting and 8 rebounds in a comfortable road win.
Pleiss played his 250th career game the following round in a win over Olympiacos. He scored just 1 basket in that game, but a memorable one as he reached 2,000 points for his career with it.
Only 48 hours later, Pleiss was in the starting lineup for the first time since Round 5 and had 12 points in 14 minutes in a win over AS Monaco. He followed that up with 17 points in a come-from-behind Round 12 victory over Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul, before scoring 13 points last week in an overtime thriller against his former team FC Barcelona.
The differences between Pleiss's production early in the season and over the last seven games are significant. He not only more than doubled his scoring, but his accuracy from all ranges improved by 11 percent or more. And he has done it with far bigger volume.
Attempting nearly 7 two-point shots per game, Pleiss has not missed more than 3 shots in any of the last seven games, including going 15 for 20 over the last three since he returned to the starting lineup.
Pleiss has been making shots from all over the floor, from at the rim to as far back as the three-point line. He has made a total of 4 three-pointers over the last seven games and has been finding ways to the free-throw line, too, attempting 2.0 free throws per game over the span.
Efes will look to get back to its winning ways and Pleiss will try to stay hot this week as he travels back to his native land when Efes visits German giants FC Bayern Munich on Thursday.