By Eurohoops team/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Game 1 between Olimpia Milano and Anadolu Efes in the Euroleague playoffs proved that defense will be the primary focus of both teams, however, the rematch was decided by offensive heroism and the Italians got the win this time with 73-66 on the scoreboard.
The crucial exchange of shots happened at the two-minute mark when Ben Bentil drained his first three-pointer after going 0-3 earlier. Shane Larkin responded for Efes but Troy Daniels immediately banked in another one for Milano.
That development put Milano up 67-66 and, after Vasilije Micic missed his shot, Shavon Shields scored a tough two-pointer from range to increase the lead. Kyle Hines stepped up on the defensive end, blocking Micic’s drive to the basket, and once again Shields went for a three-point play, scoring the driving layup under foul that decided the outcome.
Shields finished with game-high 21 points while Sergio Rodriguez had 17. Shields also put up eight boards next to his name and his post-game note was all about the mindset he and his teammates must embrace, especially when in a tough position.
“I am proud of everybody in the locker room. Game 1, we didn’t show any character and desire. We kind of got punked in the second half a little bit. So hats off to everybody in the locker room, from coaches to everyone on down. We regrouped, fought a lot harder today, and came out with a win. We need to have a next-man-up mentality. We have been unlucky with injuries and things like that throughout the year, but we are still a team and we have to be together. We have to get at least one in Istanbul and make the most of what we’ve got.”
For Efes, Larkin led the way with 19 points followed by Micic who had 18 points.
It should also be noted that Rodriguez, as well as Malcolm Delaney, got injured in the fourth quarter within the span of two minutes, leaving the floor and not returning. Luigi Datome and Nicolo Melli have been out as well beforehand.
That will make things hard for Milano as the best-of-five series lingers on and the home-court advantage is switching sides to Efes‘ favor. And coach Ergin Ataman counts on the fans’ energy.
“One-one, great atmosphere. Now, we will see the Istanbul atmosphere; it will be much better than this. But Milan played a great game. In the last two minutes, we made a lot of mistakes, Shields played great, congratulations. Good atmosphere, but we will double or triple it in Istanbul.”
Coach Ettore Messina, on the other hand, will give his all leading the team but he’s not optimistic at all going forward in the series considering all the injuries.