Efes Pilsen improved to 2-2 in difficult Group B by rallying from an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter to edge Le Mans Sarthe Basket 66-63 in Istanbul, Turkey, on Thursday night. Efes is now tied for the fourth place in the Group B standings. Meanwhile, Le Mans dropped to 0-4 and needs to start winning right away to keep its Top 16 chances alive. Drew Nicholas paced the winners with 21 points on 5-of-8 three-point shooting. Serkan Erdogan added 13 points and Loren Woods posted a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds for Efes Pilsen. Luka Bogdanovic led Le Mans with 21 points on 5-of-7 three-pointers. Sam Clancy added 11 points and 10 rebounds and Alain Koffi had 10 points for the guests. Le Mans got off to a strong start, as a red-hot Bogdanovic pushed the guests to a 33-36 halftime edge. Raviv Limonad and Clancy fueled a 0-12 run that gave Le Mans a double-digit lead, 40-51, after three quarters. Nicholas single-handedly led the Efes comeback, burying 4 triples in the fourth quarter to give Efes a 61-57 edge with less than two minutes to go. Le Mans managed to get within 63-62, but Scoonie Penn and Andre Hutson made free throws to help Efes add its second win in Group B.
Bogdanovic got Le Mans going with a driving layup and Koffi added a basket in transition for a 0-4 lead. Efes struggled to score early until former Le Mans forward Kenny Gregory buried a mid-range jumper. Yannick Bokolo quickly answered with a reverse layup and soon added a free throw to make Efes fans start to wonder, 2-7. Nicholas buried his first triple and Penn sank a mid-range shot to tie the game at 7-7. Nicolas Batum answered with a three-pointer from the corner and Bokolo added a close jumper, before Woods tried to get the crowd involved with a dunk. Bogdanovic fired in one from downtown and Efes coach David Blatt called timeout at 9-15. Le Mans kept dominating the defensive boards, while a red-hot Bogdanovic nailed another triple for a 9-18 lead. Woods scored in the paint, but Clancy matched his layup with a floating jumper. Bogdanovic sank his third triple in as many minutes to give Le Mans a double-digit lead. Phil Ricci shined with a jump hook that capped a 2-13 run. Ermal Kuqo tried to ignite an Efes comeback with a power layup that got his team within 13-25 after 10 minutes.
Le Mans kept struggling to score early in the second quarter and opted to slow down the tempo to find better shots. Meanwhile, Kuqo fed Erdogan for a triple and Gregory dunked it for an 18-25 deficit. Le Mans called timeout, but Efes kept its momentum going. Erdogan struck again from downtown and soon added free throws to bring Efes back to life with a 10-1 run. The visitors struggled to score until Koffi stepped up with a power layup. He soon grabbed a loose ball and put it in to give Le Mans a 23-30 edge. Woods shined with a jump hook, as the game turned into a physical battle. Efes called timeout to adjust its offense and Woods took over with a put-back dunk. Nicholas added a stop-and-pop jumper to make it a two-point game, 29-31. Le Mans kept missing free throws as Efes entered the bonus. Gregory added a put-back basket, but a free throw by Ricci gave Le Mans a 31-33 edge. Nicholas beat the shot clock with a fade-away jumper, but a final triple by the ever-present Bogdanovic allowed Le Mans to keep a 33-36 halftime lead.
Efes kept shining in defense after the break, not allowing any easy shots. Meanwhile, Erdogan hit a floating layup to keep the hosts close at 35-37. Le Mans could not find the way to the basket, but defense kept the guests in the game. Both teams went scoreless for more than two intense minutes until Bogdanovic hit free throws for a 35-39 Le Mans edge. Kuqo banked in a jump hook and Nicholas hit from downtown to give Efes its first lead in the game, 40-39. Le Mans called timeout, after which Koffi stepped up with back-to-back jumpers to restore a narrow lead for the visitors. Blatt chose to stop the game to help Efes regain its momentum. It didn't happen, however, as Limonad stepped up with a driving layup, Clancy added a dunk and Nebojsa Bogavac shined with a fast break layup to give Le Mans a 6-point margin. Limonad scored again to cap a 0-12 run and boost the guests' margin back to double digits, 40-51, at the end of the third quarter.
Nicholas tried to ignite the hosts' comeback with a big triple from the top of the key, as Le Mans went scoreless for more than three minutes. A red-hot Nicholas buried a six-meter fade-away jumper to get the crowd involved, 45-51, with seven minutes to go. He finally found some help when Woods fed Kerem Gonlum for a layup-plus-foul that capped an 8-0 run to get the hosts within 3. Le Mans quickly called a much-needed timeout and Clancy gave his team some fresh air with a close basket, but Woods erased it with a jumper at the other end. Ender Arslan fed Gonlum for a layup that tied the game at 55-55. Clancy made foul shots, but Nicholas bettered them with a triple that completed the Efes comeback, 58-57. The hosts forced a 24-second violation with intense defense and Nicholas fired in another critical triple, making Le Mans call timeout, 61-57. Clancy and Woods traded baskets and Bogdanovic nailed a triple to turn the game into a thriller, 63-62, with a minute remaining. Batum missed a triple and Le Mans opted to foul Penn, who made both shots for a 65-62 edge. Batum missed again from downtown, but Woods missed free throws with 10.5 seconds to go. Efes fouled Limonad, who made just 1 of 2 foul shots. Hutson did the same in the other end for a 66-63 Efes edge with 4 seconds remaining, but Bogdanovic missed a desperation mid-court prayer at the buzzer.
Thursday, November 15, 2007