By Eurohoops team/ email@example.com
In theory, that could have been a hard night for the hosts, but that was not the case with Shane Larkin scoring 23 points. He finished the game with 4/8 threes, plus four assists, two steals, and just one turnover as his team remains all alone on top of the league standings with a 16-3 record despite missing Vasilje Micic and also Bryant Dunston.
The hosts led by nine at halftime (42-33), however, Efes had a 16 points advantage (65-49) by the end of the third quarter, and the game was over. Chris Singleton added 16 points on 4/5 threes for the winners.
The Italian side was missing Jeff Brooks and Riccardo Moraschini due to injuries, Aaron White was also on his way to Tenerife, and Sergio Rodriguez had an off night against Efes‘ defense with just three points on 1/8 FG.
Still, the Italians have a solid 10-9 record.
“I feel good”
At this point, everything is clicking for Anadolu Efes and Shane Larkin explained: “I feel good, we are playing really well as a team. I am feeling really well and healthy, my teammates are doing a great job of putting in a position to be successful and we are out there executing. I feel well, we all feel well, hopefully, we keep it going. Fans give me energy for the whole game. They are always on my side, they are always cheering me and supporting me. [I had] a bad fall [in the fourth quarter], but their energy and their cheers got me up. I appreciate them and hopefully, we can keep it going for them.”
And coach Ergin Ataman also praised his team: “I think we played perfect defense the entire game. Very aggressive against their guards. Especially, we did not let Sergio Rodriguez find his shot. That was our strategy because he is the key for this team if he scores a three-point shot or makes assists. But we moved very well and played strong. It was a fantastic basketball game tonight in a fantastic atmosphere.”
“I hope we bounce back”
On the other hand, Milan’s coach Ettore Messina expects at least more energy from his team: “We were beaten on every loose ball. I remember vividly, three times there was a loose ball that we almost got, we did not, and they scored a three-point shot. That is 9 points like that. In addition to this, we shot very poorly a lot of open shots, especially at the beginning of the third quarter when we still had a chance to make it a game. The game was over in the third quarter. We have another game in 48 hours, a high-level challenge in Tel Aviv, and I hope we bounce back. Physically, you cannot improve it. That is who we are. When we lose games it is always the same thing. It is always not being able to play through contact, not being able to challenge people in the post, not being able to contain the dribble penetration. It is always the same thing. Also, we are now missing two of our best athletes, Brooks and Moraschini, and immediately you can see that. I know Efes is missing Dunston and Micic, two outstanding players, so this is not an excuse for the game, I am just talking about our level of performance. Plus, it is very simple, if our three top players have a bad night like tonight, it is very difficult for us to win. “
Photo credit: EuroLeague