Efes Pilsen got its first Top 16 win in Group F by beating Winterthur FC Barcelona 82-78 in Istanbul, Turkey on Wednesday night. Efes, though already eliminated from teh Quarterfinal Playoffs race, improved to 1-4. Meanwhile, Barcelona dropped to 3-2, is already qualified for the playoffs and will finish in second place no matter what if Panathinaikos beats Prokom Trefl on Thursday. Marcus Haislip led the winnes with 25 points and 11 rebounds. Kerem Gonlum added 18 points, while Cuneyt Erden had 11 for Efes. Juan Carlos Navarro had 16 points for Barcelona, Fran Vazquez added 14 and Jaka Lakovic 12. Gonlum had all his team's points in a 10-0 run that allowed Efes to take a 46-39 lead at halftime, while Haislip took over in the third quarter to make it a 15-point game, 60-45. Roko-Leni Ukic, Vazquez and Lakovic rallied Barcelona to within 78-77 with 41 seconds to go before free throws by Baris Hersek and Gonlum allowed Efes to seal the outcome.
Vazquez got Barcelona going with a dunk but Erden answered from downtown to give Efes a 3-2 lead. Lakovic sank a short jumper for the guests that Niksa Prkacin bettered with a layup-plus-free throw for Efes. Navarro made free throws that Prkacin matched with a put-back, and then Efes started to get Haislip involved. Navarro and Haislip traded three-pointers while Rodrigo De La Fuente made foul shots to tie the game again, 11-11. Haislip insisted from downtown while Erden added an easy layup to give Efes a 16-11 lead. Vazquez scored in the paint and Jordi Trias dunked in a 0-6 run that Navarro capped with a layup off a midcourt steal. Haislip took over again with a driving layup and Prkacin scored in the low post, while a running jumper by Mustafa Abi made Barcelona call timeout at 22-17. Barcelona kept struggling to score while Haislip capped a 8-0 run with a baseline jumper to boost the Efes lead to 24-17 after 10 minutes.
Barcelona improved its defense early in the second quarter and finally found a go-to guy in Navarro, as he sank a big triple to get Barcelona within 26-21. Denis Marconato added a second-chance layup while Navarro shined with his trademark "bomba" shot to make Efes call timeout at 26-25. Antonio Granger stepped in to help Efes with a triple from downtown but Marconato followed a dunk with a long jumper to tie at 29-29. Efes had lost control now while Marconato scored off a pick-and-roll with Lakovic to put Barcelona back ahead, 29-31. Lakovic capped a 0-9 run with a triple from the top of the key, making it 29-34, but Gonlum was waiting to rescue Efes. He exploded with 10 unanswered points by himself, including a three-point play and back-to-back jumpers to put Efes back ahead, 39-34. Lakovic buried a three-pointer and Michalis Kakiouzis added a reverse layup, but Gonlum - who else? - dunked it for a 41-39 Efes edge. The first basket by Drew Nicholas and another triple by Haislip fixed the halftime score at 46-39.
Haislip provided a highlight with a dunk-plus-free throw right after the break to give Efes its first double-digit margin, 49-39. Gianluca Basile tried to change things with a low two-pointer and Navarro added a mid-range jumper bur Prkacin scored again down low to keep Efes out of trouble at 51-43. Baris Hersek followed a turnaround jumper with a three-pointer to make it a 13-point game, 56-43, after a 7-0 run. Navarro shined with a left-handed layup but Haislip erased that with a wild put-back dunk and soon added a baseline jumper to make Barcelona call timeout at 60-45. Haislip scored again in the paint but Roko-Leni Ukic bettered him with a three-pointer. A red-hot Haislip fired in his fourth triple, as Vazquez tried to ignite a Barcelona comeback with a five-meter jumper and a block. Gonlum stepped up with a put-back basket but free throws by Ukic brought Barcelona within 67-56 after 30 minutes.
De La Fuente buried a three-pointer right at the start of the fourth quarter and then free throws by Trias brought Barcelona as close as 67-61. Gonlum shined with a jump-hook but Ukic hit free throws and fed Vazquez for a five-meter jumper, forcing Efes to call timeout at 70-65. Nicholas stepped up with a corner three-pointer and Erden copied him soon after that to boost the Efes lead back into double digits again, 76-66, midway through the final period. Trias and Vazquez again got Barcelona closer at 76-69, and even when Lakovic hit a free throw, Erden finished another long Efes offense with a layup. Lakovic hit a seven-meter bomb while Roger Grimau added a fast break layup to get Barcelona within 78-75 with less than 2 minutes remaining. Vazquez hit a shot with 41 seconds to go while Hersek and Grimau traded free throws for a 79-78 edge with 15.4 seconds to go. Hersek returned to the foul line and did not miss this time, while Grimau failed on a key three-point shot and Gonlum assured Efes the victory with free throws.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007