Real Madrid KO’s Efes for third straight Final Four berth
Real Madrid pulled away late en route to a 63-76 victory over Anadolu Efes Istanbul on Thursday at Abdi Ipekci Arena to win their best-of-five series 3-1 and advance to the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four for the third consecutive season. Rudy Fernandez hit a pair of threes in the final minute to close out a game that was close for three and a half quarters. Fernandez led Madrid with 17 points, Sergio Llull added 14 points and 5 assists, Sergio Rodriguez scored 12 and Jaycee Carroll and Felipe Reyes netted 10 points apiece. Nenad Krstic paced Efes with 16 points, Janning added 10 and Dario Saric posted 9 points, 12 rebounds and 5 assists in defeat.
First quarter: Efes makes 8 free throws to snag lead
Both teams missed their opening shots. Saric drove for a layup and the game’s first points. Janning picked up where he left off in game 3 with an early three-pointer. Llull sank a jumper as the 24-second clock expired, but Dontaye Draper drilled a triple and Saric split free throws for a 9-2 Efes advantage. Fernandez hit from downtown for the visitors. Stephane Lasme drew Gustavo Ayon’s second foul and made 1 of the resulting free throws. Llull drove for a layup before Lasme hit a jumper. Llull added a triple to close the gap to 12-10. Rodriguez threw an alley-oop pass to Rodriguez, but the latter’s reverse slam rimmed out. The Efes offense was silent for more than three minutes as Rodriguez hit a go-ahead triple. Saric ended the drought with 2 free throws. Cedi Osman turned a steal into 2 more free throws for a 16-13 advantage. After Thomas Heurtel sank a three, Madrid used a timeout. Andres Nocioni stepped up for the visitors with a second-chance three. After Birkan Batuk made free throws, Rodriguez’s short jumper made it 21-18.
Second quarter: Krstic stands strong inside to keep hosts on top
Batuk sank a three and Heurtel dished an assist to Krstic for a slam and an 8-point advantage. After a timeout, Carroll and Llull connected from downtown. Saric made a mid-range jumper. After 2 free throws for Krstic, Llull found Slaughter for a layup that made it 30-26 midway through the quarter. Lasme added a jumper, but Carroll kept Madrid’s deficit low with free throws. Jonas Maciulis’s fade-away three-point play brought Madrid within 1. Saric and Lasme made foul shots that kept Efes ahead. After Krstic hit a baseline jumper, Fernandez made a tough layup, but Krstic collected an offensive rebound and battled his way to the rim to make at 39-33 at the break.
Third quarter: Madrid uses 3-16 charge to storm ahead
A minute into the second half, Felipe Reyes muscled his way to a basket-plus-foul that halved Madrid’s deficit. Another Reyes bucket made it a 1-point game. Saric lost the ball and Llull turned it into a layup and a 39-40 Madrid lead. Reyes added a tip-in as his team’s defense kept Efes off the scoreboard. Janning hit a three to end a four-minute scoring drought and even the score at 42-42. Fernandez buried a tough shot that put Madrid back on top and then added a pair of foul shots. Nocioni hit a three from the corner to cap a 3-16 run. Milko Bjelica scored his first basket and soon after Saric sent a long pass to Bjelcia for a three-point play. Ayon scored in the paint, but Janning drove through the paint for a slam that ended the quarter at 49-51.
Fourth quarter: Fernandez’s late threes seal victory
Carroll got going with a floater and a three-pointer. Rodriguez hit a long jumper for a 9-point advantage. Krstic’s free throws and reverse layup gave the Efes fans reasons to believe. Despite a Madrid timeout, Draper took a long defensive rebound and drove for a layup and foul. He missed the bonus shot, but Krstic put it in to cap an 8-0 surge. Fernandez’s jumper and Rodriguez’s three-pointer made it 57-63 with five minutes remaining. Reyes restored an 8-point Madrid cushion before Krstic sank 2 free throws. Janning and Llull traded tough shots. Lasme’s slam made it 63-68 with 80 seconds remaining. After Madrid ran the clock down, Fernandez hit a clutch triple and Heurtel missed a rushed shot at the other end. Another Fernandez triple and a Rodriguez steal and layup put the game away before the final buzzer.
Thursday, April 23, 2015