Efes Pilsen topping Maccabi Electra 63-56
Efes Pilsen kept the status quo in Group F intact on Wednesday with a 63-56 victory over Maccabi Electra at the Abdi Ipekci Arena in Istanbul. Mario Kasun scored 14 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and served as a general force in the paint as Efes became the seventh home team in as many Group F game to win. Accordingly, Efes tied Maccabi at 2-2 in the group and if Real Madrid beats Montepaschi on Thursday in the Spanish capital, all four teams in the group will be tied at 2-2. It wasn’t all bad news for the Israeli champs, who made their 10-point win in Tel Aviv stand up and now own the potential head-to-head tiebreaker against the Turkish champs. The game went to the wire after Maccabi got within 1 with three-and-a-half minutes remaining, but missed too many shots down the stretch. Efes started the game with Kasun dominating in the paint en route to a 9-0 opening, but Maccabi fought back with a 2-14 second-quarter run to take the lead. However Efes scored the last 9 points of the half to take a 35-30 halftime lead. Maccabi tied the game in the third quarter, but never regained the lead. Charles Smith added 11 points for the winners, who struggled with their three-point shooting, making just 5 of 25 (20%) from downtown. David Bluthenthal scored 15 off the bench for Maccabi and D’Or Fischer added 9 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 blocks, but Alan Anderson, who entered the game as the Top 16 leader in scoring and index, was held to 7 points, making just 1 of 6 three-pointers, and a 5 index.
Maccabi won the opening tip, but it was Efes that struck first when Kerem Tunceri connected from downtown. The visitors’ attack struggled while Smith and Kasun with a tip-in stretched the lead to 7-0. Kaya Peker dished to Kasun for a slam that brought the fans to their feet and caused Maccabi head coach Pini Gershon to burn an early timeout. The little talk helped as Andrew Wisniewski hit a three for Maccabi’s first points after four-plus minutes and a Stephane Lasme offensive rebound led to a Guy Pnini triple as the visitors got back in the game. Kasun threw down a monster slam on the offensive glass and then set up Bootsy Thornton for a layup as Efes resumed control. Smith’s fastbreak layup made it 17-8 as Kasun became a major factor on defense too. However the Efes center walked of the court with an undisclosed injury. Bluthenthal and Chuck Eidson drew Maccabi closer from the line, but the Efes ball movement led to an Ermal Kuqo layup. Anderson’s first basket made it 21-14 after 10 minutes.
Doron Perkins sped up in transition for a Maccabi layup, but Thornton drained a wide-open triple for the hosts. The backcourt pairing of Perkins and Raviv Limonad pressured the Efes guards and also led to a Limonad layup. Efes’s ball movement continued to result in good shot opportunities, but the ball was not falling in. At the other end, Bluthenthal free throws and a D’Or Fischer steal leading to an acrobatic Perkins layup finished a 0-8 push to knot the score at 24-24. An Efes timeout didn’t cool off Maccabi as Perkins hit a shot jumper to give the visitors their first lead. Bojan Popovic sank a long jumper to end the Efes drought, but Maccabi remained hot. Eidson fed Fischer for a slam and Limonad finished a five-on-one fast break to cap a 2-14 charge. After another Efes timeout, Ender Arslan drilled a three-pointer and Bostjan Nachbar hit a jumper as Efes regained the lead, 31-30. Igor Rakocevic finished a fast break with a layup and Maccabi used a timeout. This time Maccabi remained cold in the last two minutes and a Peker tip-in made it 35-30 at the half.
After a sloppy start to the second half, Tunceri buried a jumper to stretch the Efes run to 11-0 going back to the second quarter. Fischer tipped in a Perkins layup and then Perkins passed behind his back to Fischer for a fast break jam as Maccabi stayed close. Kasun was back for Efes, but took a few minutes to warm up to his first quarter form. Perkins tied the game at 37-37 before Kasun asserted himself with an offensive rebound and dunk. A minute later he muscled inside for a layup. Bluthenthal sank an open three to bring Maccabi within 1. Rakocevic took and made Efes’s first 2 free throws of the night before Tunceri fed Kasun, who soared for a fast break slam, however Wisniewski penetrated for a layup and Anderson went right at Kasun to keep it close. Rakocevic sank 2 more free throws to make it 47-44 at the end of the quarter.
Rakocevic threaded the Efes defense with a pass to Nachbar for a slam and Daniel Santiago followed a Rakocevic miss for a dunk leading to an urgent Maccabi timeout. Fischer managed to draw fouls at both ends of the floor and Bluthenthal hit a long triple as Maccabi trimmed the gap. The Efes defense did not allow any easy shots and the game grew more physical as the refs let the players play hard. Kasun inadvertently tore the net away from his own basket going for a rebound, resulting in a lengthy stop of play midway through the quarter. When they came back, Tunceri brought smiles to the Efes fans with a triple only to see Anderson match him seconds later. Fischer made it 54-53 with a baseline jumper with three-and-a-half minutes remaining. Nachbar took a dish from Bootsy for a nifty layup and then he stopped Anderson on defense, giving his team the ball with a 3-point lead and less than two minutes to play. The Maccabi defense forced 2 misses, but Kasun scored on the offensive glass. However Bluthenthal answered with a triple. Smith scored inside to make it 60-56 with 47 seconds left. Fischer missed a jumper and Efes tried to kill the clock. A Smith triple iced the win, but Maccabi held on in the closing seconds to retain the tiebreak advantage between them after winning the game in Tel Aviv by 10.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010