Shane Larkin relieved with EuroLeague championship after three long years

2021-05-31T00:34:00+00:00 2021-05-31T00:34:00+00:00.

Giannis Askounis

31/May/21 00:34

Mission completed for Shane Larkin with Anadolu Efes crowned Turkish Airlines EuroLeague championship

By M. Bahadır Akgün/

Anadolu Efes going from the last place in the 2017-18 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season to the 2019 Final Four championship game led up to the triumph at Lanxess Arena in Cologne, Germany. Shane Larkin signed after the 2017-18 season to become a part of the exciting ride all the way up the mountain of Europe’s premier club competition.

“It’s unbelievably relieving,” he said to Eurohoops after helping his side beat FC Barcelona and capture the title, “Three long years. We came out of nowhere. Nobody really knew who we were. We were the underdogs. We showed what we are worth.”

The breakout 2018-19 season saw Efes land fourth place in the Regular Season. FC Barcelona, this season’s opponent in the championship tilt was the playoff opponent then and was eliminated in five games. The next triumph came against Turkish rival, Fenerbahce, in the Final Four semifinal. However, CSKA Moscow prevailed in the championship game at Fernando Buesa Arena, in Vitoria-Gasteiz.

“We got to the championship game and came up a little short. This game was really similar to that one, back and forth,” pointed out Larkin reflecting on the earned experience, “In the one, we didn’t have the experience, we lost in the fourth quarter to a more experienced team. That experience two years ago helped us get here today. A tied game in the fourth quarter, but we pulled through, made the right plays, get the defensive stops, and now we are champions.”

What could have been in the 2019-20 season will never receive an answer. The former Miami Hurricane dominating seemed to be more than enough for the team based in Istanbul to capture its first EuroLeague title. The coronavirus pandemic may have forced the season to be canceled but did not keep Efes away for much longer.

“Everybody gave me so much credit last year for what I was doing individually. MVP, scoring records, and all that stuff. But, at the end of the day, that season was great for what it was. This trophy is all that matters,” pointed out Larkin, “If you ask any true professional competitor, this is what you want to walk away with. It’s all worth it. You can we should have won it last year, that we deserved it. But now we are here and we earned the trophy. Nobody can take it away from us, COVID canceling seasons and whatever. We are champions and nobody can take that from us now.”

His partner in crime, Vasilije Micic was named season MVP and Final Four MVP.

“I am extremely proud of him,” he said answering a question regarding his teammate’s individual awards, “He works extremely hard. He is dedicated to the game. He is our leader out there. He has been through a lot of personal things. For him to have an MVP-caliber season and then have the MVP in this Final Four, is amazing for him. I am super happy. We are going to be able to share this moment forever with all our teammates.”

Larkin, 28, wrapped up the EuroLeague season with 21 points. He did most of his offensive work from the free-throw line with 12/12. He was struggling in the first half but was effective after the break and in crunch time.

“We had to save it. We knew that we would play a lot of minutes today,” he explained to EuroLeague TV, “So we had to save a little energy until the end because we knew it would be a close game.”