By Antigoni Zachari, quotes: Semih Tuna / email@example.com
Anadolu Efes survived feisty Olimpia Milano in Game 3 of their playoffs series in Istanbul and Shane Larkin was among the key contributors behind his team’s 16-2 run in the final minutes of the game which was meant to secure the victory.
Larkin took total control in the final minutes, hyping the fans in the Sinan Erdem Sports Hall. “It was a tough game and intense game. Back and forth the entire time. We were down by three points with I think five minutes left, so being able to pull it out at home in front of our fans, they gave us a bunch of energy towards the end of the game”, he told Eurohoops. “When the game was finally over and we guaranteed the victory, I just let out some emotion, that was a good moment”.
“[The morale] is good”, Larkin affirms. “We’ve been in this situation multiple times, we’ve been to the Final Four multiple times, and we know what it takes to win. We have good energy, everybody is feeling good getting that victory at home, knowing that we only have to win one game to go back to the Final Four. Everything feels good, it’s important to stay focused, because it’s a great team [Milano], with great coaching staff over there. Nothing is guaranteed. You have to stay focused, not feel too comfortable, and not feel too confident. Going there and understand that this team is going to come out with everything they have in the next game because it’s their last chance to compete in the series, and it’s our chance to finish it. So we need to come out with intensity and try to finish this thing at home”.
Larkin posted 16 points and five assists in a little over 37 minutes in Tuesday’s faceoff, with a strong influence in the second half. “In the first half, they were double-teaming me a lot. They played a lot of switch defense, and when they switched they threw two guys at me”, he says. “In the first half, I was facilitating the ball, trying to get my teammates going, but then at the end of the game when it comes down to winning time, I know that I have a great responsibility for this. At the end of the day, I like to take responsibility and it worked in my favor”
When asked about Milano’s visit to Istanbul in Round 32 of the regular season, which ended in an 83-77 defeat for Efes, Larkin said he was not thinking about it. “In basketball, you have to have a short memory. That’s one of the most important things about being a professional basketball player. That game was a long time ago, I don’t even remember when it was [laughs]. I didn’t think of it at all”.
Game 4 of the series between Efes and Milan is underway Thursday, April 28 (19:30 CET) in Istanbul.
Photo credit: EuroLeague