Week 2 of Euroleague regular season action has started off with a bang in Istanbul. Efes Pilsen of Turkey has proved the theory that there are no off nights in Group A by beating back previously unbeaten Benetton Treviso of Italy 87-78. The victory lifted Efes to a 1-1 record and banished memories of its first-game loss at Olympiakos. Marcus Brown erupted for 26 points against his old team, Benetton, before Istanbul fans who had been waiting for just such an explosion. Mehmet Okur was steady underneath with 22. For Benetton, Sergei Chikalkin scored 26 points to get his team as close as six points in the final minutes, but it was not to be. Alan Tomidy added 15 for Benetton, whose record fell to 1-1.
The first half looked like the eventual outcome could go either way, especially as Benetton surged to a 12-18 lead after five minutes on a three-pointer by Chikalkin. As it turns out, that was Benetton's biggest lead all game, but it took the home team the better part of 15 minutes to make up the difference. That only happened on the last play before the half, when Okur dropped in a short one for a 48-42 Efes lead. Along the way, the key figure was Brown, who spent last season as Benetton's top scorer. Brown worked within the arc, making 5 of 7 shots there and adding 1 of 2 three-point attempts for 14 points at the half. That put him 5 ahead of Tyus Edney, the speedy point guard Benetton missed in its opening game overtime victory against Unicaja Malaga. Benetton's other big off-season acquisition, Chikalkin, was up to 12 points, with a pair of three-pointers and four perfect free throws.
Efes used its second-quarter momentum to keep right on leading through the third, when the lead leaped to double-digits for the first time at 64-53. The inside out combination of Brown and Okur was working perfectly as Efes held onto that margin, 66-55, going into the final quarter. Brown was up to 20 points and Okur 18, while Chikalkin was on 17 for the visitors. A spectacular dunk by Okur opened the final period for Efes and then a three-pointer by Brown made Efes threaten to run away at 71-57. But Mario Stojic answered in kind, and that started something of a comeback for Benetton. Chikalkin came up with five straight points and Tomidy ended a 5-13 run for the visitors with a dunk. The Efes lead was down to 76-70. Okur saved the day for the home team with one basked and then Kaspars Kambala converted an Edney turnover. The lead was back up to 10, 70-80, and Efes was headed for its first victory.
Wednesday, October 17, 2001