Efes Pilsen advanced to the Top 16! Efes Pilsen overcame Entente Orleanaise 60-75 and benefited from Lietuvis Rytas’s loss to Unicaja to claim fourth place in Group D and a berth in the next stage. The Turkish champs led from start to finish in improving their record to 4-6. Meanwhile Orleans finished its debut Euroleague season at 2-8. It was all Efes early as head coach Ergin Ataman’s men took leads of 0-8 and 2-16 in the opening quarter. Cedrick Banks helped Orleans find its feet and get back in the game. Ryvon Covile made it a 2-point game midway through the second quarter as only Preston Shumpert’s shooting kept Efes afloat. Shumpert remained hot after the break, sinking three threes in as many minutes as part of a 2-11 push that lifted Efes up by 15, a lead that would stand up the rest of the way. Shumpert finished with a season-high 21 points to lead Efes. Igor Rakocevic added 14 off the bench, Kaya Peker scored 12 and dished a career-high 5 assists and Charles Smith accounted for 11 points and a career-high 7 assists. Austin Nichols led the Orleans attack with 17 points.
Things could not have started any better for Efes Pilsen as it scored on its first five possessions. The big men were involved in creating for the guards too. After Mario Kasun fed Peker for the first basket, Peker found Bootsy Thonton twice for layups and Kasun stole the ball from Covile and sent Smith for a layup. After an Orleans timeout, Nichols got the hosts on the board with a long jumper. Ender Arslan knocked a triple and a minute later Thornton did the same. Peker’s hook shot made it 2-16 midway through the quarter. Aldo Curti found himself open and drained Orleans’s first triple, but Smith dished to Peker, who rose above the crowd for a one-handed slam. The Orleans attack finally found its feet as Banks set Justin Doellman up for a two-handed jam and then Doellman’s steal resulted in a Banks layup. Banks then spotted up for a three from the corner to make it 12-18. Bostjan Nachbar found Arslan for an open three only for Nichols to match him. Shumpert scored off an inbounds play at the end of the quarter to make it 15-23.
Covile scored a free throw to start the second quarter and after Daniel Santiago scored inside, Tony Dobbins nailed a three from the corner. Doellman narrowed the gap to 4 and Orleans had three tries to get even closer before Nachbar’s scoop shot fell in. Covile passed to Dobbins for a two-handed slam dunk that showed Efes that it wasn’t going to have an easy time. After a Shumpert basket, Laurent Sciarra hit Dobbins on the break to make it 25-29. A TV timeout didn’t stop the hosts’ momentum as Covile converted a second-chance basket to bring his team within 2. Shumpert stepped up with a three-pointer and after a Nichols jumper, a Peker steal led to another Shumpert score and a 29-35 lead. Nichols scored once again before Rakocevic dropped in a pair of free throws for a 31-37 Efes edge at halftime.
Smith opened the second half with a triple, but both teams seemed a bit cold in the next two minutes. Covile fought for an offensive rebound and basket. A few wild passes and poor shots resulted in a scoreless minute, but then Shumpert stood tall and drained a three. Doellman scored inside only to see Shumpert rain down another triple that put Efes ahead 10. The momentum continued as Rakocevic scored and Shumpert added a third three in a s many minutes to make it 37-52. Sciarra passed to Adrien Moerman, who got on the scoreboard with a slam. Rakocevic pulled up for another three. Ludo Vaty answered with a hook shot and soon added another basket to make it 43-55 at the end of the quarter.
Peker added to Efes’s lead to start the fourth quarter, but Nichols tried to fight back. He sandwiched a pair of threes around Shumpert free throws to cut the deficit to 10. However a Peker steal led to a Smith slam. Then Rakocevic pulled up for a jumper and drilled a long three. Nichols answered with a jumper, but Rakocevic made it to the line where he added free throws as Efes regained control at 51-68. Even after Vaty scored from the line, Smith sank a three from the corner to take the lead to 18. Moerman scored inside as both teams seemed to accept the fate of the game. Peker added to his total as did Vaty. And as the final buzzer sounded, all that was left for Efes to do was to run and watch the end of the L. Rytas/Unicaja clash, which still had several minutes left to play.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010