Milan outlasts Efes to close in on playoff berth
Curtis Jerrells got hot in the fourth quarter to lead EA7 Emporio Armani Milan to a hard-fought 76-69 win over visiting Anadolu Efes Istanbul on Friday night at Mediolanum Forum in the Fashion Capital. The win took Milan ever closer to a playoffs berth. Despite not having the Turkish Airlines Euroleague’s leading scorer Keith Langford in the lineup, Milan found the way to win its fifth straight game, improving to 8-3 and staying in sole possession of second place in Group E. Meanwhile, Efes dropped to 2-9, and lost all mathematical chances to advance. The visitors led for majority of the contest, but never more than 41-48 midway through the third quarter. But Milan rallied back, before Jerrells took over by scoring 11 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter, including three triples and a layup with one minute to go that sealed the deal. Alessandro Gentile added 15 points for Milan, Samardo Samuels amassed 14 points plus 12 rebounds, while Daniel Hackett and David Moss scored 10 apiece in victory. Milko Bjelica finished with 16 for Efes, while Jamon Gordon had 12 points plus 8 assists, and Kostas Vasileiadis also scored 12 in defeat.
First quarter: Teams trade early blows
Milan big man Samuels started things off by working his way inside for a bucket and Gordon answered with a fastbreak layup for Efes. After Hackett stole and took off for a reverse layup, Gordon’s drive to the hoop and a put-back from Bjelica made it 5-6. Samuels scored again from close range, and after Bjelica sank 3 of 3 free throws, elevated for a big dunk and a 9-9 tie. The hosts regained the lead when Gentile buried a jumper, and with Curtis Jerrells driving for a pair of layups Milan went in front 15-10. Gordon snapped an 8-1 Milan run with a floater and then Kostas Vasileiadis hit a mid-range jumper for the visitors. Jerrells added a pair of foul shots to the hosts' tally, but Vasileiadis nailed a three-pointer in the last seconds of the quarter, making it 19-19 after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Efes takes slim lead into half
Samuels opened the second quarter in a similar way to the first, but Dusko Savanovic hit a triple and Gordon a short jumper for Efes to go ahead 23-24. After Hackett banked in a shot, Birkan Batuk had a triple and a fastbreak layup to take the visitors in front again, 25-29. Gonlum added a layup for Efes but soon Gentile hit a fadeaway jumper and drove for a layup, tying the affair at 31-31. Efes re-took the lead with Bjelica scoring a layup on a breakaway, and after Planinic scored a layup of his own, Deniz Kilicli muscled one in through heavy traffic for a 32-37 advantage. In the final minute of the half, Kristjan Kangur nailed a three-pointer, Milan's first of the night, before Planinic and Hackett traded layups, making it 37-39 at halftime.
Third quarter: Visitors hold on to its slim lead
Gentile opened the third quarter with a layup, but Vasileiadis buried a long three, before Gordon added a layup and assist on Kilicli’s layup to make it 39-46. After a Milan timeout, Hackett scored a driving layup, but Batuk answered with a short jumper. However, Hackett drove for another layup, David Moss hit a corner triple, and after an Efes timeout, Gentile’s fastbreak dunk helped Milan tie the game at 49-49. But Gonlum scored on a short jumper and Bjelica hit a long one for a 49-53 lead.
Fourth quarter: Milan finishes strong behind Jerrells
A basket-plus foul from Samuels started the quarter. Bjelica kept Efes in front with a three-pointer, but Jerrells sank one from long range to get within 55-57. After Planinic hit a floater, Moss countered with a baseline jumper. Vasileiadis drove for a layup and a 57-61 cushion. Nicolo Melli battled for a layup on the other end, and Jerrells knocked down a three-pointer to put Milan in front, but Bjelica hit another triple for Efes to regain the lead at 62-64. However, Jerrells stayed hot, hitting a step-back three and then he assisted on a length-of-the-floor pass for Gentile’s fastbreak layup. After a timeout, Moss nailed a corner three-pointer to make it 71-65 and after Gordon scored off the glass, Jerrells drove for a layup with just over a minute to go. Gentile’s monster dunk sealed the deal.
Friday, March 21, 2014