By Antonis Stroggylakis/ email@example.com
Anadolu Efes coach Ergin Ataman was openly highly critical of guard Vasilije Micic and forward Will Clyburn, two of the team’s most prominent players and prolific performers overall, for their lackluster displays during the away loss of the defending champions to Olympiacos Piraeus.
Micic finished the game with 10 points on 4-11 from the field while Clyburn had eight points on 4-13 shots, a day after being named Round 22 MVP.
“We didn’t find anything from our star players offensively,” a visibly frustrated Ataman said. Efes lost 76 – 70, registering their lowest-scoring output this season. “Everybody is talking that we have very good offensive players, star players. But we need these star players to play in this kind of games. Not in the Turkish League games against weaker teams. I talk about Will Clyburn and Vasilije Micic. We need these guys to play and score in these games.”
This isn’t the first time Ataman publicly slams his players, especially Efes‘ marquee names, even harshly. It’s something he has done several times over the last couple of years and during the team’s championship runs. The Turkish coach has been generous in his positive comments as well.
Eurohoops asked Clyburn about Ataman’s comments. “Everybody has an opinion,” the 2019 Final Four MVP mentioned. “I’ve been scoring all year. So… I guess I don’t have room for a bad game.”
Clyburn is the leading scorer (17.1 points) and rebounder (5.3 boards) for Efes this season in EuroLeague, while also posting 2.2 assists per game. He and Micic (16.8 points, 5.8 assists, 3.3 rebounds overall) have been the backbone and lifeblood of Efes, carrying the team, especially during the long absence of fellow superstar Shane Larkin.
From late November to mid-December, Clyburn had a phenomenal stretch with consecutive 20+ games over a 5-0 streak to lift Efes from a 2-5 start. Micic, the back-to-back Final Four MVP, was also dominant during that period.
Since then, Efes went 4-6 and fell below the playoff zone. Their defeat to Olympiacos was their fourth over the last six games, a result that dropped them to 11-12.
“Our situation is not good right now in the EuroLeague,” Ataman added.
While Olympiacos‘ defense worked to near-perfection to neutralize Efes’ major weapons, Sasha Vezenkov was providing firepower at will for the Reds after the break. He finished with 23 points and scored 18 of them in the second half while scoring seven over the last five minutes.
“Vezenkov found some difficult shots in the second half over hands,” Ataman said. He also lauded Michalis Lountzis, a revelation for Olympiacos with 13 points plus seven rebounds while general being a tertiary option off the bench.
“I want to give big congratulations to Lountzis,”Ataman commented. “He averaged 1.1 points so far and many times he didn’t make the roster. Now, with Kostas Sloukas out, he did a great job for Olympiacos.”