2020-21Final FourSEMIFINAL B
May 28, 2021 CET: 18:00
Local time: 18:00 LANXESS ARENA

Efes holds off CSKA in semis thriller

Anadolu Efes Istanbul advanced to its second straight Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Championship Game after dismissing outgoing champion CSKA Moscow 86-89 in the first semifinal of the 2021 Final Four at Lanxess Arena in Cologne Germany. Efes, which lost to CSKA in the 2019 final, will face the winner of Friday's second semifinal between FC Barcelona and AX Armani Exchange Milan in the championship game on Sunday. CSKA scored the game's first basket, but never led again as Efes opened a double-digit lead in the first quarter, led 37-39 at halftime and opened the third quarter with a 2-11 run. However, Iffe Lundberg sparked a 10-0 run that bridged the third and fourth quarters and gave CSKA hope. The game came down to the closing seconds and Will Clyburn missed a go-ahead three, which allowed Efes to hold on. Vasilije Micic led the Efes attack with 25 points and 6 assists before fouling out. Sertac Sanli also shined with 19 points and 8 rebounds, Rodrigue Beaubois added 15 points, Shane Larkin 11 and Krunoslav Simon 10. For CSKA, which saw its hopes of defending the EuroLeague crown for the first time come to an end, Clyburn scored 26, Daniel Hackett had 11 of his 17 in the fourth quarter, Iffe Lundberg netted 15 and Toko Shengelia paired 10 points with 7 rebounds.

The game started with each team scoring through strengths; Shengelia netted a tip-in for CSKA and Micic got a layup off a mismatch. There were some fine early moments on defense with Chris Singleton, Shengelia and Sanli each rejecting a shot. Efes pulled ahead through Simon's three-point play on the offensive glass and Beaubois's three-pointer. The game's first substitute, Johannes Voigtmann, netted a triple for CSKA only to see Simon match him to make it 7-13 after 5 minutes Hackett scored twice for the Muscovites, but threes at the other end by Micic and Beaubois prompted a CSKA timeout at 11-19. Beaubois's third triple made it a double-digit advantage for Efes and a jumper by Micic extended the margin to 12. Janis Strelnieks picked Larkin’s pocket and scored on the first-quarter buzzer to make it 15-25. Clyburn got going for CSKA, but Larkin kept Efes in control and Micic extended the lead to 24-39 with free throws and a step-back three. Though Clyburn continued to shine for CSKA, it wasn't enough to make a significant dent in the deficit. Larkin took control with an acrobatic layup and an assist to Sanli for a slam and a 33-49 lead. Clyburn scored the last two baskets of the half to give CSKA hope at 37-49.

Micic converted a four-point play to start the second half and added a jumper to give him 20 points and Efes an 18-point advantage. Everything seemed to go in Efes's favor as even after Nikita Kurbanov rejected Sanli at the rim, the Turkish center grabbed the ball and turned it into a basket-plus-foul. A layup by Simon capped a 2-11 start to the half. Lundberg scored twice for CSKA, but the Efes attack kept generating points. Micic blew by Lundberg and Voigtmann and added free throws to push the difference to 48-69. Lundberg responded with a three from the corner and Singleton took a seat with 4 fouls. Shengelia was called for his fourth foul after a turnover on the ensuing play. Clyburn rose for a thunderous slam and Lundberg scored in the lane to trim the deficit to 55-61 at the end of the third quarter. Ivan Ukhov opened the fourth with a three, Voigtmann made a great defensive play and Lundberg drilled a three to bring roars from the CSKA bench and calls for a timeout from the Efes bench at 61-71 just a minute into the fourth quarter. Ukhov forced Simon into a turnover and the momentum had switched. Efes regained its composure and Lundberg became the game's first casualty of the foul limit. Ukhov netted a three to bring CSKA within 66-75. Sanli made free throws and dunked to keep Efes in charge, but a layup by Hackett and an offensive foul that Darrun Hilliard drew from Micic had the CSKA bench on its feet at 73-81 with less than 5 minutes to play. Hackett kept the pressure on when he capitalized on a turnover by Larkin for a three-point play and drew Micic's fifth foul. Free throws by Clyburn made it 80-83 with 2:54 remaining. Beaubois responded with his third basket of the fourth quarter, after which CSKA called timeout. Kurbanov sank free throws to get CSKA within 86-87 with just over 1 minute to play. After a defensive stop, Clyburn and Hilliard both missed and CSKA sent Larkin went to the line with 7.8 seconds remaining. He split his shots and CSKA had a shot to win it, but Clyburn missed from downtown and Efes held on.

Top performer

Freshly crowned EuroLeague MVP Vasilije Micic scored 14 points in the opening 14 minutes of the game to lead Efes to an early double-digit, then scored the first 6 points of the third quarter to extend the margin beyond 20 points. Micic finished the game with 25 points and 6 assists, though he fouled out in the fourth quarter and was not on the floor to help Efes close out the win after CSKA rallied.

Sanli shines

Sertac Sanli set the tone in the first quarter with a pair of blocked shots before delivering on the offensive end. Sanli was on the receiving end of passes from Micic and Shane Larkin and went on to contribute with 19 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks. He missed only 3 shots and was perfect in 7 trips to the line in compiling a PIR of 25, which was 1 off his career-best.

CSKA's spark

Iffe Lundberg, in his 14th EuroLeague appearance after making his debut in late February, opened the game with 2 early personal fouls and was scoreless until 6:19 left in the third quarter with CSKA down 39-60. However, Lundberg scored 15 of CSKA's next 21 points to close the gap to 61-71 and give his team a chance.

Decisive stats

CSKA came into the game as the top rebounding (35.6 rpg.) and offensive rebounding (12.7 orpg.) team in the competition, but Efes more than held its own, outrebounding CSKA 28-29. Efes also made more three-pointers than CSKA on fewer attempts, going 8 for 20 (40%) from behind the arc, while CSKA was 7 for 25 (28%). Efes improved to 23-0 on the season when scoring at least 80 points.

Vasilije Micic - Anadolu Efes Istanbul - Final Four Cologne 2021 - EB20
Friday, May 28, 2021
Attendance: 0 (Tentative)
By Quarter1234
CSKA Moscow15221831
Anadolu Efes Istanbul25242218
End of Quarter1234
CSKA Moscow15375586
Anadolu Efes Istanbul25497189
CSKA Moscow
  Rebounds Blocks Fouls
# Player Min Pts 2FG 3FG FT O D T As St To Fv Ag Cm Rv PIR
1 LUNDBERG, IFFE 13:33 15 4/4 2/3 1/2       1   1     5 2 10
3 BOLOMBOY, JOEL DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
6 HILLIARD, DARRUN 17:11   0/1 0/3     1 1 1   1   1 2 1 -5
7 UKHOV, IVAN 16:29 8 1/2 2/3   1   1 1 1     1 3   5
10 HACKETT, DANIEL 30:44 17 6/8 0/2 5/5   3 3 2 2 2   1 4 4 17
11 ANTONOV, SEMEN 4:34   0/1                         -1
13 STRELNIEKS, JANIS 5:15 2 1/1 0/1           1 1         1
17 VOIGTMANN, JOHANNES 32:49 6   2/3   2 2 4 2         3   8
21 CLYBURN, WILL 35:11 26 9/9 1/6 5/6 1 6 7 1 1 2     2 9 34
23 SHENGELIA, TORNIKE 24:02 10 4/8 0/2 2/4 4 3 7     2 1 2 4 7 9
41 KURBANOV, NIKITA 16:56 2   0/2 2/2   2 2     1 2   2 1 2
50 ERIC, MICHAEL 3:16   0/1               1   1 1   -4
Team             3 3               3
Totals 200:00 86 25/35 7/25 15/19 8 20 28 8 5 11 3 6 26 24 79
        71.4% 28% 78.9%
Min: Minutes played; Pts: Points; 2FG M-A: 2-point Field Goals (Made-Attempted); 3FG M-A: 3-point Field Goals (Made-Attempted); FT M-A: Free Throws (Made-Attempted); Rebounds: O (Offensive), D (Defensive), T (Total); As: Assists; St: Steals; To: Turnovers; Bl: Blocks (Fv: In Favor / Ag: Against); Fouls: Cm (Commited), Rv (Received); PIR: Performance Index Rating
Anadolu Efes Istanbul
  Rebounds Blocks Fouls
# Player Min Pts 2FG 3FG FT O D T As St To Fv Ag Cm Rv PIR
0 LARKIN, SHANE 19:26 11 3/6 1/5 2/4   1 1 1   2       3 5
1 BEAUBOIS, RODRIGUE 24:59 15 3/5 3/4     1 1 1   3   1 3   7
2 SINGLETON, CHRIS 28:39 1     1/2   3 3 1   1 2   4 1 2
4 BALBAY, DOGUS 0:08                              
15 SANLI, SERTAC 26:15 19 6/8 0/1 7/7 2 6 8     2 3 1 3 4 25
18 MOERMAN, ADRIEN 11:13 6 1/1   4/4   1 1           2 3 8
19 TUNCER, BUGRAHAN DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
21 PLEISS, TIBOR DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
22 MICIC, VASILIJE 35:52 25 4/8 3/7 8/9   3 3 6   3   1 5 10 26
23 ANDERSON, JAMES 11:36 2 1/1     1   1       1   3   1
42 DUNSTON, BRYANT 12:12   0/1     1   1   1       2 2 1
44 SIMON, KRUNOSLAV 29:40 10 3/5 1/3 1/1 1 5 6 3 1 1     2 3 16
Team           1 3 4               4
Totals 200:00 89 21/35 8/20 23/27 6 23 29 12 2 12 6 3 24 26 95
        60% 40% 85.2%
Head coach: ATAMAN, ERGIN

Head Coaches

CSKA Moscow

"Congratulations to Efes for making the championship game. They were dominant for about 27 minutes. Unfortunately, lack of communication and over-respect - with no offense to the great team of Efes - we gave them a lot of spot-shots, which was not our plan because they are great on spot-shots. They shot 7 of 12 from beyond the arc and were dominant there in the first half. That was pretty much the difference. The 4 more three-pointers that they hit were important. We wanted to start the third quarter differently, but they continued to hit tough shots, and that gave them a boost. But overall, the fact that they went 1 of 8 beyond the arc in the second half talks about how we changed our attitude and it was changed defensively in the beginning of the fourth quarter. Down 16, we went to the players and said: 'Listen, we still believe we can come back. Down 16 in basketball, anything can happen if we correct things.' We changed some things. We found the best possible way to come back - playing small ball a lot. We kept finding good open looks. We were making shots, and the momentum of the game - and basketball is a game of runs - shifted to our side. We could have had a different outcome. It didn’t happen all the way. It leaves a bitter taste in our mouths the way we lost the game. But congratulations to Efes for making the championship game.

"I am proud and I told them before the game all four teams that made the Final Four should be proud for making the Final Four. It’s a big thing. It’s not something to be taken for granted, especially considering these unprecedented times we’re going through with the pandemic and the injuries we had. We were proud, but we didn’t come here just to have this feeling and play for no reason. We came here for a reason. And every team that comes here comes to reach the championship game. That’s the goal. Whoever says differently is lying. We were not good in the beginning definitely. Efes was punishing exactly what we should not give them. But we gave them that. It leaves a bitter taste because we could have had a different outcome. I’m proud of the way we fought. It’s not easy in life - and also in sports - when the other team is dominant and you see them making shots and being confident for 27 minutes., you have to get them out of their comfort zone. That’s what we were trying to do the whole time. We found a good thing. Was it too late? Maybe. But we found the way to come back. So I’m proud of that. And definitely in life and in sports, you don’t choose to fall, but if you fall you have to fall forward. We wanted to have the right message and become a better team, become better individuals. Those are the opportunities for growth and we’re ready to evolve in this game as a group and as individuals.”

Anadolu Efes Istanbul

"I’m not good because we made the same mistakes again. We played perfect basketball for three quarters and then in the last quarter we made incredible mistakes. All respect to Clyburn. We didn’t really stop him. We gave up all the isolation points to Clyburn. We didn’t stop him. On offense, we made incredible mistakes. We won the game with luck at the end. We deserved to win more easily but we will be in the final... All respect to Clyburn because he broke our defense. We had perfect defense for three quarters. Nobody could find scores inside - Shengelia, Voigtmann. But Clyburn and Hackett [beat us] on the easy pick-and-roll attack. Okay, defensively we made those mistakes, but offensively, especially after Micic had the fifth foul, we stopped playing. But we will play in the final and I hope we will not make the mistakes again in the final."

"I think [Sanli] has made the best improvement in the EuroLeague in the last two seasons. He’s 30 years old, but he gave us the minutes today and played perfectly in the second part of the EuroLeague season and also tonight he played perfectly. It was a difficult game for him because many times he didn’t have a correct matchup. I believe he will play much better in the final.

"Today was not Shane Larkin’s day. Everybody saw that. There are two reasons. First, the starting guards Micic and Beaubois played great games. He came into the game after about 9 minutes and it’s not easy for a star player to stay on the bench and then come into the game and start to play immediately because the expectation is so high on him. He made a mistake early in the second half. I tried to keep him on the court, but I saw that mentally he was down. I wanted to finish the game with Micic and Beaubois, but then Micic had the fouls and we closed the game with Larkin. This is basketball. You can’t only play with one or two players. Everybody thinks that Larkin didn’t play good basketball today. That’s correct. But I saw that he scored 11 points and those were important points. But I believe he will play his real game in the final because he’s a great player. He’s a final player. He’s the best player in the EuroLeague. But sometimes this season he has had some physical problems. Today he had some mental problems. But I believe he will be 100 percent - he will be the player to give us the championship.

"Micic. He’s the MVP of the league. He played great. He played great basketball tonight. Maybe he deserved to rest some more minutes before the last quarter, but he really played excellently on offense and our offense worked very good with his organization, Tonight was not Larkin’s night and then we had some problems when Micic went out. We didn’t have the contribution from Larkin that we were expecting. And that cost more energy for Micic. But I believe in the final that Shane Larkin will be 100 percent ready and we will play our regular basketball."


CSKA Moscow
"No excuses. We allowed them to play their basketball. We chased them. We didn’t impose our style on the game and this cost us a lot, it cost us to go down 20 points. When you go down 20 points, you gotta make almost a miracle to come back in the game and we did that. We had a chance with Clyburn to have the last shot, our MVP, our guy we trust with the ball in the end and unfortunately the shot was short, but I'm still very proud of how we fought, how we came back in the game and the road we made in the EuroLeague this season."
CSKA Moscow
"We all fought harder than what we did in the first half. We all fought harder. We still made some mistakes by playing hard, but they are a good team, it is always going to be tough to come back against that team if you have a deficit like that. In the first half, they just got a lot of open shots that we didn't want them to have. A 12-point lead at halftime was all they needed to hold on to their lead. I actually thought I had a good shot to win it, it did not fall my way, but we definitely had a chance to win it."
CSKA Moscow
"I don't know how I feel, honestly. It's a bad feeling, I need to process this a little bit. Obviously, it's not what we wanted. In the first half we us could not get stops, and if you get scored on all the time it becomes to find baskets yourself. In the second half, we found a defense that worked and in offense Will, Iffe and Danny carried us. Unfortunately, we came short."
Anadolu Efes Istanbul
"I think we controlled the game for 33 minutes, we were up by 15 or 16 points, then we started [looking] at the game clock which is not a good idea when you play against CSKA. They came back, they had a shot for the win. But once against we showed we are strong, we are good in critical moments, so we are happy we are going into Sunday's final. It will be one more tough game in front of us, but I think we are good enough to win one more game. We are an experienced team. I cannot say there will be something different. There are no big secrets in the championship game or between the teams here in Cologne. We will try to play the best we can, the teams and players know each other, so it will be interesting."
Anadolu Efes Istanbul
"Credit to CSKA for not giving up especially when they were down by 20. They came fighting back and made it a game. We didn't think to come out and just blow them out by 20, we knew they would give us their best fight, so getting this win was big. When you see something like that happening and they take the momentum, the little details that you can take upon yourself, like Shane, he got a big rebound at the end of the game that denied them a second chance. Those little details capture a game like that."
Anadolu Efes Istanbul
"The real present, hopefully, will be after the next game. It’s good that we won this game. We fought really hard. We kind of took our foot off the gas a little bit. Offensively we were doing some things that we're not usually accustomed to doing, so they made a little run. We let our defense dictate the game in the end and we got some key stops."
Anadolu Efes Istanbul
"It was really tough [to watch from the bench at the end]. I don’t want to make any excuses but I was really tired. I just made some unnecessary mistakes. But I’m glad that we had such a good team like we showed today. Happy for Rodri [Beaubois], for Shane [Larkin]. Of course, it wasn’t easy to watch, but in the end the most important thing today was to win and we made it. And now we have to forget that as soon as possible... It’s difficult. You have to learn from every game. Today I tried a little bit to push at the beginning to give the pace to the team. I thought I would have something left in the tank, but I definitely didn’t have it. But as I said, we really stuck together in the end. It was a really, really tough game. I want to congratulate CSKA. They didn’t give up. It was a great game to watch."
Anadolu Efes Istanbul
"Coach trusts me and my teammates trust me. I need to work on the court to play with them. It’s all about teamwork, that’s it. Not just Vasa [Micic] and me play this game, everybody plays this game. Vasa had his fifth foul in the last quarter, I didn’t play in the last 4 minutes, but we’re a team, we’re a good team. Everybody tried to get the win. Everybody tried to do something for the win. It’s just teamwork."
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