By Eurohoops Team/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Shane Larkin posted game-highs 18 points (including scoring the go-ahead bucket) and eight assists as Anadolu Efes beat Real Madrid 90 – 89 in a postponed game for Round 24 of the EuroLeague regular season.
This was a must-win game for an Efes team that is fighting to climb to the playoffs spots. After this victory, the back-to-back reigning champions remain 10th in the standings, now at 14-4. The second-placed Real lost ground in the battle for the top, falling to 19-9.
Real was down 77 – 60 at the beginning of the fourth period but made a 0 – 12 run and then completely erased that margin to go up 83 – 84 with 1:22 to play after a 3-pointer by Guerschon Yabusele.
Larkin hit a triple to put Efes in front and then sent the pass to Tibor Pleiss as their team took a 88 – 84 advantage. The German big man then delivered a key block on Gabriel Deck and Will Clyburn all but secured the hosts’ win with a pair of free throws.
As Efes coach Ergin Ataman said for Larkin: “He is one of the best players in Europe. We like to see him always like this. OK, he missed the beginning of the season. Until the middle of December, he didn’t play. Then, he came back. And now, he’s playing his game. For me, it’s not a surprise. The star players can play this kind of game. He played well tonight and I hope he will continue to play the same way because he deserves to. Larkin is an excellent player so it’s not such a surprise for me. We need these guys to play. Micic had some problems. In the first half, he also played great. So if Micic will play his game, we will be again a very good team.”
“We played perfectly”
Speaking about the game, Ataman added: “I think until the last quarter, we played perfectly. Especially in the third quarter, we scored 35 points, our defense was extremely good. But sometimes it’s very difficult to understand basketball. Because OK, some players get tired, we change, we get them to rest in the last quarter, two minutes, three minutes, but after we missed everything. We missed everything in the last quarter, and they made everything, and we risked the game that we had and played perfectly until then. But anyway, it’s an important victory for us”.
Dzanan Musa led Real with 16 points while Gabriel Deck had 15 points and Sergio Rodrguez scored 14, draining two triples during the Blancos’ comeback. Edy Tavares dropped 13 points.
Apart from Larkin, Elijah Bryant contributed 17 points and six rebounds to Efes’ win. Will Clyburn notched 15 points plus seven rebounds, Pleiss and Chris Singleton scored 11 points each, while Singleton also made plays in key moments of the game.
“I think my teammates were just able to find me”, said Bryant. “I caught some rhythm, hit some shots, and most importantly, we were able to get a big win. Just getting downhill, trusting my shot, believing in the work I put in, and having faith. I always give credit to god. It’s about staying ready. There’s a lot of talent throughout the roster, but having the opportunity to show your skills… you might not have it one day, but you have to stay ready, stay locked in, and be consistent over time.”
Real Madrid head coach Chus Mateo admitted that his team simply made fewer long-range shots than Efes: “We started the game well, in the right way, and in the last 5 minutes of the second quarter, they started to come back. But we knew that the game was going to be tough. In the third quarter, they were able to score a lot of threes and too many points in this quarter, something we cannot afford. Anyway, we fought until the end. We were able to score more twos, they scored more threes and this is the game. We did the same things that they did to win, but they scored one more point, and this is what counts.”