Real downs Efes in season opener
Real Madrid had a strong start to the 2021-22 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season by downing defending champion Anadolu Efes Istanbul 82-69 in Round 1 in the Spanish capital in front of 4,000 Real fans at WiZink Center on Thursday. Guerschon Yabusele and Thomas Heurtel led the winners with 15 points apiece. Edy Tavares added 13 points and 12 rebounds for Real. Shane Larkin scored 21 for Efes and EuroLeague newcomer Filip Petrusev added 17 in defeat. Adam Hanga, Heurtel and Jeffery Taylor led Real to a 32-15 lead after 10 minutes. A three-pointer by Alberto Abalde made it a 21-point game soon after that. Larkin and Bryant Dunston brought Efes within 50-35 at halftime, but little changed after the break as Real boosted its margin to 68-48 at the end of the third quarter and never looked back.
Fabien Causeur got Real going with a finger-roll floater. Hanga and Yabusele each struck from downtown in a 12-0 opening run. Larkin stepped up with a driving basket and a three-pointer and got help from Krunoslav Simon to bring Efes within 16-8. Petrusev bettered Tavares's dunk with a three-point play, but Heurtel downed back-to-back triples for a 24-13 score. Taylor took over with a fast break layup and followed Vincent Poirier's alley-oop slam with a buzzer-beating tip-in that boosted Real's lead to 32-15 after 10 minutes. Sergio Llull, Nigel Williams-Goss and Abalde each struck from beyond the arc to break the game open, 41-20, early in the second quarter. Dunston scored twice down low, Rodrigue Beaubois and Yabusele traded from beyond the arc and Tavares dunked again to make it 46-27. Heurtel fed Tavares for an alley-oop slam and added a floater, but Larkin and Vasilije Micic drew Efes within 50-35 at halftime.
Hanga dunked off a steal soon after the break, but Larkin and Micic each scored around the basket and then Chris Singleton struck from downtown to give Efes hope at 55-42. Tavares dunked again and Williams-Goss hit a triple that gave Real plenty of fresh air. Real found a new go-to guy in Yabusele, but Petrusev brought the visitors within 65-48. Tavares restored a 68-48 Real lead after 30 minutes. Micic and Larkin each struck from beyond the arc early in the fourth quarter, causing the hosts to stop the game at 71-54. Llull buried a fallaway jumper and soon added a couple of baskets in transition to seal the outcome long before the final buzzer.
Edy Tavares was a dominant force in the paint and his aggressiveness helped Real to a great win. He finished the game with 13 points on 6-of-6 two-point shooting, 12 rebounds - 6 on each side of the court, 1 assist and 2 blocks for a team-high PIR of 24.
Real made the difference late in the first quarter and early in the second. Jeffery Taylor followed a fast-break layup with a high-flying tip-in that gave Real a 32-15 lead at the end of the first quarter. Sergio Llull, Nigel Williams-Goss and Alberto Abalde each hit a triple to boost the margin to 41-20. Real went on to control the game from then on.
Real stopped Efes's ball circulation in the first half, powering the offensive glass to make the difference in the game. Efes reached halftime with 4 assists and 8 turnovers plus 8 defensive rebounds while allowing Real to pull down 10 offensive boards. Those extra possessions had a big impact on the game's final outcome.
Did you know?
It was the 50th showdown between Real and Efes. The teams faced each other for the first time on October 2, 1997; Efes defeated Real 66-76 in the Spanish capital behind 19 points from Brian Howard. Real has a 27-13 record against Efes and is 15-5 at home against the Turkish powerhouse.
Both teams return to EuroLeague action on Friday, October 8. Efes takes on CSKA Moscow in a rematch of the 2019 championship game and the 2021 EuroLeague semifinal. Real visits Olympiacos Piraeus in a rematch of the 1995, 2013 and 2015 championship games.
Thursday, September 30, 2021