By Eurohoops team/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Shane Larkin was everywhere with a game-high 21 points plus five assists and five rebounds as Anadolu Efes defeated Olympiacos Piraeus 76 – 53 at home, forcing the Reds to an scoring season-low and claiming its third straight win in Euroleague.
“We came out really soft on the defensive end and they got a lot of scores in transition. But once we locked in on the defensive end, we started to get our offensive rhythm and then we started to play better,” Larkin said in his post-game flash interview. He and his teammates trailed by 15, 11 – 26, at the end of the first quarter until a complete transformation and a 15-0 run that pushed them to the driver’s seat.
Olympiacos, that was minus Kostas Papanikolaou and Aaron Harrison, had begun the game in an electric fashion, mostly thanks to Giannoulis Larentzakis (10 points, all of them in the first period, plus eight assists). Efes‘ defensive response was hard enough to push the Greek side to scoring just eight points in the second period, a number that marked the team’s worst single-quarter output this season.
As Larkin said, Efes‘ defense created a lot of scoring opportunities and his team made the most of them to finish halftime up 43 – 34. They continued hindering Olympiacos‘ scoring efforts to increase their lead, while the visiting squad continued performing poorly to finish with 19 points in the second half.
“In my opinion, without any explanation, in the second quarter, we collapsed,” Olympiacos coach Giorgos Bartzokas said. “We stopped playing together and started playing individually. At the same time, coming back to defense, we didn’t execute our game plan.” His team finished the game with 22 turnovers.
Bryant Dunston added 15 points plus seven rebounds for Efes while Rodrigue Beaubois scored 11. Sasha Vezenkov had nine points for Olympiacos that suffered its sixth loss in a row and is getting further and further from the playoffs zone.
A “perfect defense”
Efes coach Ergin Ataman was particularly pleased with how his players handled themselves on defense, especially when it came to stopping the action of Kostas Sloukas (seven points, two assists, five turnovers) and Vassilis Spanoulis (four points, one assists, four turnovers).
“On defense, I think that in this game, we played perfect defense, especially in halfcourt defense,” Ataman said. “We didn’t give them any pick-and-roll score for Sloukas, for Spanoulis on the roll. So our defense was perfect. Then, after the second quarter, we also started to find points after defense, transition points with Larkin. In set offenses, we found the good way to attack their switching man-to-man.
Photo: EuroLeague Basketball