By Eurohoops team/ email@example.com
Krunoslav Simon with 38 seconds left made a big three (83-80), Sergio Llull missed and Chris Singleton got the rebound, the foul and with two free throws sealed the deal (85-80). Anadolu Efes got the 88-83 win over Real Madrid and qualified for the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four by prevailing in Game 5.
Singleton with 26 points, a new career-best in the playoffs, had a dominating presence, Simon finished the game with 17 points and the biggest shot of the game, while Vasilje Micic added 18 points and Shane Larkin scored 10 crucial points, all of them in the last period.
“We started off so bad. I remember one practice we had six people there. Everyone was hurt or something like that. And we just battled back the whole year. And now we’re here”, said Singleton referring to the COVID issues that Efes had and added: “We’re going to the Final Four. I think Shane was right. He said, ‘Look at the end.’ And here we are at the Final Four.”
“It was an amazing game by Chris Singleton, a career night”, said Anadolu Efes coach Ergin Ataman who also congratulated the opponent: “They are a great opponent, they didn’t back down and they stayed close until the very end. Great emotions for us. I believe that in the last two seasons, we deserved to be there, in the Final Four, to fight for the cup, the title that we lost last year”.
Nicolas Laprovittola with 17 points was the top scorer of Real Madrid that fought valiantly until the end, thanks to 12 offensive rebounds and a solid shooting night.
While Larkin was kept scoreless, Madrid led by five at the end of the first half (41-36). However, after just two minutes in the second half, the score was tied at 41 and everything started from zero.
The “Whites” reacted with a three by Jaycee Carroll, but Efes went on to a 19-3 run, getting a 55-44 advantage. Madrid didn’t give up and trimmed the lead to three (60-57) at the end of the third with Trey Thompkins having 12 points and making two big threes.
With another three by Laprovittola Madrid made it a two-point game (62-60) and Usman Garumba tied the score at 62. Still, Efes held on with Larkin making his first shot of the game and giving his team a 68-64 lead.
Once more Madrid didn’t back down and thanks to three by Rudy Fernandez got a 69-68 lead, preparing the stage for the big finale as the two teams exchanged blows until the closing seconds of the game.
As Real Madrid coach Pablo Laso said after the game: “Congratulations to Efes, they were lucky enough to make it to the Final Four. They showed how good they are and how much they deserve to be in the Final Four while playing against us. Good luck to them in the Final Four. Of course, I am really upset that we lost these series, but I am really happy and proud of my players’ hustle and development so far. Congratulations to Efes once again.”