Dynamo Moscow edging Efes Pilsen 72-76
Dynamo Moscow finished second in Group A and will be a top-seeded team in the Top 16 draw after edging Efes Pilsen 72-76 on the road in Istanbul, Turkey on Thursday. Dynamo finished Group A tied with Olympiacos for the second spot in the standings at 10-4. Dynamo managed not only to be second dur to its one-point tiebreak advantage with the Reds - based on their head-to-head score difference - but also became the best second-ranked team in the competition. That means Dynamo will join the group winners - Tau Ceramica, Panathinaikos and CSKA Moscow - in the top level at Monday's draw. Meanwhile, Efes finished fourth in Group A with an 8-6 record. Antonis Fotsis led the winners with 18 points, but Travis Hansen had 6 of his 16 points in the final 2 minutes, including a pair of free throws to put the victory on ice. Lazaros Papadopoulos added 14 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists for Dynamo. Horace Jenkins had 25 points for Efes, Ermal Kuqo added 16 and Drew Nicholas 13. Efes did not lead in the final period but got within 70-71 with with 2 minutes to go, before Hansen stepped up to assure Dynamo a key victory.
Papadopoulos rejecting Jenkins on a layup attempt to start the game was a good sign of the tough match that lay ahead. Fotsis gave the visitors the game's first lead before Kuqo got Efes in the scoring column. Dynamo want back to Papadopoulos for a jumper, but it was already clear this was a defensive battle. Points came hard until Fotsis unloaded from downtown for a new Dynamo lead, 11-13. Soon, it was Jenkins finding what he sought since than the beginning of the game, his first triple, good for a new Efes advantage, 16-15. Next, Kuqo showed that he could hit from the arc, too, making it 19-15 before Kerem Gonlum scored 4 straight to up the Efes lead to 23-18 at the end of the first quarter.
Efes nursed along its lead early in the second quarter as another Jenkins triple made it 26-20. After Laron Profit added a layup to the lead, however, Dynamo shooters Travis Hansen and Sergei Monya uncorked back-to-back triples to bring the guests as close as 30-28. Efes eased away again as Cenk Akyol’s fadeway made it 34-28, but now the defenses really took over. Dynamo's pressure over the last three-plus minutes of the half brought Efes to standstill. The hosts were denying easy shots, too, until Papadopoulos fed Fotsis a very nice assist for a spectacular alley-oop that made it 35-30. Sergey Bykov’s single free throw was the last point of the first half, so Efes still held a 35-31 advantage going to the lockers.
Dynamo came out in the third quarter and really turned the game around with a 5-13 run in which strong defense plus fastbreak points of Eddie Gill, Bykov and Fotsis suddenly put the visitors in front 40-44. Efes fought back with quick three-pointers by Marcus Haislip and Drew Nicholas to go ahead again at 48-47, but the home team found scoring difficult soon again. The tactical fight on the court is the one to watch as both sides tried to hit the weakest side of the opponent. Dynamo did it especially inside, by putting Kuqo into foul trouble against Papadopoulo, whose layup before a triple by Gill meant a 52-58 lead for the visitors. Efes tried hard in to catch Dynamo, but when Nicholas's last three-pointer attempt missed, the visitors were still in front, 57-60 after 30 minutes.
Efes took a turn tightening its defense to start the last quarter. Jenkins took advantage by getting the tie at 60-60 when his triple fell. Papadopoulos put Dynamo back in front with another layup, but Jenkins evened the score again at 62-62. Papadopoulos followed Gonlum's dunk with another layup to make it 64-66 and then Bykov penetrated inside to have a layup-plus-free throw to make it 64-69 on Dynamo's favor. Jenkins boosted Efes with a three-pointer, and after Hansen hit free throws, Nicholas also popped from downtown to make it 70-71 with 90 seconds to play. Hansen had the next chance, and downed his jumper. Jenkins lost the ball and fouled Bojan Popovic, who made 1 of his 2 free throws. Efes got the possesion and Jenkins not only made a layup, but earned a technical foul, though he missed the free throw. When Efes got the possesion again from side, Jenkins missed another three-pointer and Hansen made sure of Dynamo's victory by hitting 2 perfect free throws with 13 seconds left.
Thursday, February 1, 2007
Gokhan Ture, Istanbul