By Antonis Stroggylakis / firstname.lastname@example.org
In this third EuroLeague appearance, Kostas Antetokounmpo delivered a sequence that he will remember for quite some time.
With 12 seconds to play in the game of ASVEL Villeurbanne against Anadolu Efes and the score tied at 73, Antetokounmpo soared to grab the ball above the rim after a missed layup by Dylan Osetkowski and put it right into the hoop. He then blocked Shane Larkin’s view as the latter misfired in his game-winning attempt and ASVEL grabbed a 75 – 73 victory over the reigning EuroLeague champion following a comeback from down 19 points.
ASVEL has now won all of its three EuroLeague games while Efes suffered its third defeat in a row. Yes, you read that right.
Antetokounmpo finished with 10 points, scoring six of them in the last period. Chris Jones led ASVEL overall with 16 points and six rebounds while William Howard dropped 13 points and Elie Okombo produced 10 assists to go with his seven points, six rebounds, and four steals in a massive turnaround for the French side that was trailing 37 – 56 halfway through the period.
Efes‘ productive offense crumbled. Ergin Ataman’s players committed one mistake after the other, their opponents fought back and struck in transition often as the margin reduced more and more until ASVEL made a 8 – run to to tie the score at 67. The hosts then went up for the first time thanks to a floater by Howard for the 71 – 70.
“It’s the first time I experience something like this as a head coach,” ASVEL coach TJ Parker said. “You’re playing the best team in the EuroLeague, you’re down 19 and, man, the players fought until the last minute. The game is never over until it ends. So congratulations to them, really. I didn’t really recognize ourselves in the first half. But we showed our identity defensively in the second one.”
Vasilije Micic (24 points, eight turnovers) drained a 3-pointer for the 73 – 73 but that was the last time Efes scored in the game. The Turkish powerhouse will look to bounce back Thursday on the road against undefeated Olimpia Milano.
Larkin had 15 points and six assists while reaching the 2,000-point mark in EuroLeague.
“Like a mini-basket team”
That’s how Efes coach Ergin Ataman colorfully described how his squad appeared on the floor during ASVEL’s comeback.
“Of course, it’s not easy to talk after this kind of a loss,” Ataman said. “I believe in the last 12, 13 minutes, of the second half we played like a mini-basket team. The mistakes we made were like that. Congratulations to Villeurbanne. They put great effort into the last quarter and they changed the game.”
Photo: EuroLeague Basketball