By Eurohoops team / email@example.com
Shane Larkin scored a game-high 26 points, including the go-ahead and then win-sealing free throws as Anadolu Efes beat Barcelona 86 – 82 on the road and remained tied with Real Madrid at the top of the standings with a 15 – 3 record.
Efes was down 75 – 68 with four minutes left to play after Barcelona’s comeback from behind 56 – 64 in the third period. A barrage of 3-pointers by Larkin, Alec Peters and Chris Singleton brought the Turkish side up 79 – 82 and then Nikola Mirotic tied it for Barcelona.
That was the last Barcelona scored in the match. Larkin won the foul to put his team up 82 – 84 from the line and after Pau Ribas missed the game-tying jumper, he hit another pair with five seconds left.
“I’m proud for my team the way we put it out in the end,” Larkin said to EuroLeague TV “We always believe in ourselves and we know if we are close in the end, we have the players to make the big shots.” The American guard also had five rebounds and five assists.
Singleton posted a season-high 17 points and eight rebounds while hitting 3/3 triples against his former team. He had pledged $100 for every 3-pointer and dunk made in the match to the fight against Australia bushfires, prior to the game.
Brandon Davies finished with 20 points for Barcelona while scoring all of his team’s 16 points in the third quarter. He didn’t play in the fourth period. Malcolm Delaney dropped 15 points, all of them in the first half while Mirotic, who received the MVP of the Month award for December by Juan Carlos Navarro prior to the match, added 14 points and eight rebounds. Barca dropped to 13 – 5 following this loss.
Barcelona was unable to counter the offense of Efes enough to get the win and coach Svetislav Pesic cited the lack of second-chance baskets as a reason behind the loss.
“First of all, it is necessary to say to Efes that they deserved this victory, so congratulations,” Pesic said in the post-game presser. “I think we had our chances, of course, but they controlled the game, more or less for the 40 minutes. Our three-point shots helped us in the first half, it changed the game a little bit, and in the second, at the moment that Kuric made his three pointers, we came again into the game. We didn’t lose because we didn’t make our shots. We did not win because we didn’t have second chances in offense. We couldn’t get the offensive rebounds we needed to gain more confidence. It was not enough. Basketball is very simple and sometimes it’s very important to have second chances. In the second half we took 18 three-point shots, but we didn’t have the chance to control the rebound. They controlled their defensive rebounds and we didn’t have aggressiveness on the offensive rebounds. It’s not possible to win the game that way, especially against big teams like Efes.”
Photo: EuroLeague Basketball