By Eurohoops team / firstname.lastname@example.org
Larkin scored 11 out of his game-high and season-best 25 points (8-12 shots) in the last six minutes of the match while dishing out seven assists overall in his top performance in 2021-22 so far. He drained multiple 3-pointers and sent assists to his teammates to bring Efes at a shooting distance during a comeback from a 12-point deficit early in the quarter. With 41 seconds to play, he made the go-ahead layup with one of his signature drives to the basket for the 85 – 84.
“It was a gutsy performance by our team,” Larkin said. “We were down by 12 points, but we stayed together and we kept fighting, we believed in each other. We kept making the right plays and eventually we were able to pull out the game. I’ve always felt good in [clutch] situations. Over the years, I’ve been successful with this team and this team has been able to put me in a position to be successful. We all trust each other, we all know that at the end of the game we have multiple guys who can make plays. Tonight it was just my turn and I’m just happy that we got the win.”
Fener turned over the ball and then Vasilije Micic made a pair of free throws. Nando De Colo missed his go-ahead attempt from downtown and then Larkin found Tibor Pleiss inside the paint for a hook shot that put Efes up by five with 10 seconds to play and basically called game.
Before Larkin’s crescendo, Fener had established a double-digit lead early in the third period and through the beginning of the fourth thanks to a 12-0 run and seven straight points by the previously scoreless Marko Guduric (nine points overall). The hosts were up 72 – 60 with 7:30 to play but that was when Larkin took matters into his hands, along with Pleiss (seven out of his 17 points in the fourth period) and Micic (14 points, eight of them in the last seven minutes).
Fener scored just three points in the last 4:36 minutes against Efes’ 16. Mario Shayok produced a EuroLeague career-high 18 points on 4-4 triples, De Colo had 15 points, five rebounds and five assists while Jan Vesely posted 13 points before getting fouled out with one minute to play.
“[We played well] even until the last 2 minutes,” Fener coach Sasha Djordjevic said. “We stopped. We didn’t make the final decisions the right way. We missed some shots and they made the shots. They’re a very tough team. We managed to defend their division transition really good and then Micic took over and Larkin took over. That’s why they’re the champions. I’m very sorry for our loss. Our guys fought their heads off. Obviously, Jan Vesely coming out with his fifth foul was also a big issue. We missed our calm guy to finish it and to finish it the right way defensively. Tough loss, but we have to go on.”
In praise of Shane Larkin
Efes coach Ergin Ataman had the best to say for the way Larkin performed in such a battle and the leadership his guard showcased.
“We have Shane Larkin,” Ataman said. “He came back to play like a star. This victory is more than one victory for us because he showed, during the game also but especially in the fourth quarter, a big capacity and he’s the key to open the Fenerbahce defense. We made a lot of turnovers tonight, especially Micic. We made incredible turnovers. We didn’t play good basketball, but in the last quarter we were successful to make good defense and starting with Shane, we broke open the key of the Fenerbahce defense.”