Larkin goes off, Efes beats Zalgiris

2020-02-06T20:16:06+00:00 2020-02-06T21:13:55+00:00.

Antonis Stroggylakis

06/Feb/20 20:16

Zalgiris Kaunas was en route to an upset but then… Shane Larkin happened.

By Eurohoops team/

Shane Larkin scored all of his 25 points in the second half and dropped 19 of them in the last 11 minutes of the game as Anadolu Efes beat Zalgiris Kaunas 96-91 at home to finish the double-game week with a 2-0 score.

Thanks to Larkin, Efes came back from a nine-point deficit (56 – 65) at the end of the third period to get a win that improves its record 21 – 4 and keeps them the undisputed leader of the standings. Zalgiris, fell to 9 – 15, two days following the rout over Olympiacos.

Vasilije Micic contributed 22 points to Efes. Krunoslav Simon and Tibor Pleiss had 15 points apiece.

Zach LeDay had 22 points while KC Rivers added season-high 21 points on 6/11 3-pointers for Zalgiris.

The Lithuanian team made a 0 – 9 run in the second period to close halftime up 40 – 43 and held the lead until Larkin drained the triple for the 73 – 71, three minutes into the final quarter. With the score 73 – 74, Efes made a 5-0 run and remained at the driver’s seat for the remainder of the game.

“My team did not get the respect that we deserve”

Anadolu Efes coach Ergin Ataman paid tribute after the game to the victims of recent tragedies in Turkey and also to the late Nur Gencer: “First of all, I want to say that it was very difficult days for my country because as we know, we lost yesterday more than 37-38 people in an incident, and also in the airplane crash, we lost three people. And also today, I heard that one of my best friends, ex Turkish basketball general secretary, ex FIBA member, one of the most important persons in Turkish and European basketball, Nur Gencer, we lost him. So condolences for all these people, they are family”.

Speaking about the game he added: “It was one of the most difficult games for us in the last maybe two-three months, but I expected this because Zalgiris played really great basketball in the last seven-eight days. And today we played fantastically, 19-of-31 three-point shots, I think it is a record for this year. They are not a team that shoots a lot of three-point shots, but they made a lot of three-point shots. So we won the game in the last quarter, we started to find scores, especially in isolation offense, because they also stopped our offense with their switching man-to-man [defense] but we started to use our players well, especially Shane Larkin. One-on-one, he played pick-and-roll and created scores. We got a very important victory. Congratulations to them and to my friend Saras because they really played a great basketball game tonight.”

On the other hand, Zalgiris coach Sarunas Jasikevicius talked about a crucial play, three minutes before the final buzzer. Efes was leading by two (78-76), Chris Singleton made a bucket and got the foul from Nigel Hayes to make it 80-76, but according to Saras “the key point of the match was that Nigel Hayes’s position. It was an offensive foul but they called a goal foul. Then they gave me a technical foul (ed.note: and the lead of Efes extended to 82-76), which was completely undeserved because a chair kind of dropped in front of me and I walked away from a conflict situation. They took another free throw. I think my team did not get the respect that we deserve in the second half”.