By Eurohoops team/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Anadolu Efes became the first team to defeat Olimpia in Milan this season. The 2019 finalists downed their opponents 81-76 to capture their fourth straight win ten games into the EuroLeague regular season and improve their record to 8-2.
The match was a thriller down the stretch. With the score 68-68, Shane Larkin put his team up 73-68 and then Chris Singleton fired a 3-pointer to redeem himself for losing the ball in the previous play and put the visiting squad up 71-76 with 1:50 remaining.
Sergio Rodriguez answered with the same currency for Milano but then didn’t hit his game-tying attempt with 32 seconds left to play. Larkin closed the game with 4/4 free throws to secure his team’s win as he finished with a game-high 17 points plus five assists and four rebounds.
“It was OK. I didn’t make shots but a win is a win,” Larkin said to EuroLeague TV when asked about his performance. Efes concluded the double-game week with two out of two.
Tibor Pleiss had one of his best games with Efes, finishing with a double-double of 14 points and 12 rebounds for a game-high 28 PIR. “It makes me happy because of course, I try to help my team win the game. If I make my part, I’m happy. My teammates help me a lot to be in this position,” Pleiss said.
Rodriguez had 11 points and nine assists for Milano while Vladimir Micov dropped 10 points. The “Red Shoes” are 7-3 and fell from the first place of the standings.
“Like a Final Four game”
It was a match between two top-placed teams and for Efes coach Ergin Ataman, a game of a Final Four quality and intensity. And also it was Ataman’s first-ever win against coach Ettore Messina.
“I am very happy and proud of my players,” Ataman said. “Milan is a great team this year, one of the favorites for the Final Four and maybe for the EuroLeague title. But we showed our power. It is not easy to beat them here on their home court because they played great basketball. But we played very smartly, we played perfect defense. In the most important parts of the game, we played smart and used our guards, Micic and Larkin, very well. It is a great win and we will continue to believe in ourselves, in our power and congratulations to my players. It was like a Final Four game, a great atmosphere like in the Final Four, two teams candidates for the Final Four. We will go step by step, go game by game.”
Messina agreed with Ataman: “Thanks to the fans for making a nice atmosphere in the gym. I am proud of my players. We played against a very very good team that played in the championship game last season. I think we competed. The game came down to a couple of possessions. We missed a couple of things, they made a couple of shots. I am proud of the effort my team made. We will try to recover the home loss somewhere on the road.”
Photo credit: EuroLeague