CSKA takes down Efes in thriller, 96-100
Despite missing two stars, CSKA Moscow rose up to win a thriller, 96-100, on the court of defending champion Anadolu Efes Istanbul to claim its first victory of the new season on Friday. CSKA evened its record at 1-1 while Efes fell to 0-2. The visitors led by a high of 16 points late in the third quarter but had to withstand a furious late rally by Efes to take the victory back to Moscow. Toko Shengelia had 23 points and Will Clyburn added 18 while Johannes Voigtmann and Iffe Lundberg sored 17 each for the winners. Efes wasted a 32-point show on 7-for-11 three-point shooting from Vasilije Micic while Adrien Moerman added 14 and Shane Larkin 12 for the hosts. CSKA lost big man Nikola Milutinov to injury in Round 1 and traveled without major off-season acquision Marius Grigonis to Istanbul, while Efes was without Krunoslav Simon.
Shengelia strung an open triple and Micic downed a layup to start the scoring. Voigtmann took over from there with 6 points as CSKA went up 8-13. Petrusev and Shengelia exchanged inpressive dunks before Micic hit the home team's first three-pointer for a 15-15 tie. Voigtmann returned from deep as CSKA stayed up and fed Shengelia for a fastbreak dunk for the biggest lead yet. Shengelia's free throws made it an 0-11 run and a 15-26 CSKA lead, but Micic answered with a four-point play to which Adrien Moerman added free throws as Efes cut the difference to 21-26 after 10 minutes.
Dunston dunked and blocked a shot to release Rodrigue Beaubois for a transition layup. James Anderson kept it going with a three-point play off a fastbreak that completed a 13-0 run for Efes's first lead, 28-26. Will Clyburn took it back from deep for CSKA before he and Ivan Ukhov pushed the visitors in front 31-36. Free throws and a full-court press kept it close until Beaubois rained a three at 37-38. Nikita Kurbanov and Micic traded triples at 40-42 before Larkin's 4 free throws tied 44-44. But Clyburn outdid him with 7 in a row the hard way to let CSKA lead 46-51 at the half.
Shengelia opened the second-half scoring, too. Micic and Voigtmann drilled triples, but the CSKA big man repeated his and Iffe Lundberg downed 2 layups to complete a 2-12 run to 51-65. Micic went deep again to get Efes closer at 57-69 but his fourth foul and a technical on home coach Ergin Ataman resulted in a 57-72 CSKA lead. Tibor Pleiss and Larkin, with his first field goal after 7 misses, tried to revive Efes, but Alexey Shved heated up for CSKA to lead 68-79 after 30 minutes.
Larkin fed Pleiss for a dunk to lower the difference to single digits as the fourth quarter began, but Lundberg kept CSKA safe with a triple at 74-86. Micic answered from deep and Shengelia matched him as Lundberg hit another to make it 77-92. Beaubois did the same and soon Micic joined him, but CSKA seemed well in charge at 85-94 with little more than 2 minutes left. Moerman quickly converted a three-point play and Micic dunked to suddenly make it 90-94 with 1:28 to play, prompting a CSKA timeout. Clyburn hit 1 of 2 free throws after drawing Micic's fifth foul before Moerman buried another triple at 93-95 with 52 seconds left. Shengelia was even more timely with his put-back dunk with 35 seconds left, but Moerman's free throws with 18.2 left kept it a one-possession game, 95-97. Shengelia's free throws with 8 seconds left settled the matter for CSKA.
Shengelia, Voigtmann covered CSKA's hole in the middle
From immediately after the opening tipoff, they sought to make up for the absence of their injured comrade, center Nikola Milutinov. By game's end, his frontcourt mates Toko Shengelia and Johannes Voigtmann had done all that and more, inspiring CSKA Moscow to a 96-100 road win over defending champion Anadolu Efes Istanbul. The duo combined for 40 points and 13 rebounds as CSKA consistently won a rebounding battle that few would have predicted when Milutinov, a record-setter on the boards, was injured.
Shengelia and Voigtmann split their team's first 11 points, assisting each other's first shots made, as CSKA established early and consistent leads. They were instrumental again as CSKA built a high lead of 59-75 late in the third quarter. And Shengelia stopped Efes's late comeback try with a put-back dunk and free throws in the game's last half-minute. All told the duo had a combined 56 performance index rating, which was more than any three players together for Efes, showing that their aggressiveness is enough to make up for losing an anchor in the paint.
Efes fans celebrated the champs
Friday's Round 2 game was the first opportunity for Anadolu Efes Istanbul to play a Turkish Airlines EuroLeague game before thousands of fans since taking home the club's first continental title last spring. A crowd estimated at 7,500 fans due to a local restriction of 50% capacity at Sinan Erdem Sports Hall certainly felt like a full house as they saw their heroes. The night began with a ceremonial pre-game banner-raising as the EuroLeague trophy on a pedestal at mid-court and the fans serenaded the champs. Then, just before tipoff, Euroleague Basketball CEO Jordi Bertomeu presented Ergin Ataman with the 2020-21 Alexander Gomelskiy EuroLeague Coach of the Year trophy as the fans washed the Efes boss with praise from the stands.
The celebratory nature couldn't last long with an opponent like CSKA Moscow in the house, but when Efes almost came back from 16 points behind to tie late, that limited crowd sounded like a lot more, pulling for the team that had given them so much joy last spring. It was not to be on this night for Efes, but the good vibes were certainly back where they belonged.
Bittersweet night for the MVP
It was a bittersweet night for Efes guard Vasilije Micic, the reigning EuroLeague MVP and holder of the same Final Four honor last spring. He got off to a hot start and did not stop until he had poured in 32 points, the third-highest total in his 166-game EuroLeague career.
Among that haul, he made 7 three-pointers in 11 attempts, which are more than Micic had ever downed before. Alas, after 3 fouls committed in the span of 73 seconds in the third quarter, Micic was sidelined with for 6 key minutes then as CSKA built a 16-point lead. He came back to pour in 8 more points down the stretch as Efes tried desperately to come back. But with the outcome still up for grabs, he committed his fifth and final four with 1:05 left, and could not help complete the rally, which fell short.
Friday, October 8, 2021