Efes breezes past Buducnost to seal top-four finish
Anadolu Efes Istanbul secured a top-four finish and home-court advantage in the playoffs by claiming a road victory at Buducnost VOLI Podgorica, which was more comfortable than the 84-91 scoreline suggests. Efes started strong to lead by 18 in the first half, increased that beyond 20 in the third quarter and was never seriously troubled despite a late rally from Buducnost. The Turkish side dominated inside as Tibor Pleiss scored 16 points and Bryant Dunston added 14, while Vasilije Micic tallied a8 points and 6 assists and Kruno Simon 13 points and 5 assists to lead the backcourt. Edwin Jackson scored 17 points for Buducnost, while Goga Bitadze combined 16 points, 5 rebounds and 3 blocked shots. Efes secured fourth place with an 18-10 record, two wins ahead of fifth-placed Barcelona and with the head to head advantage, while Buducnost has now lost eight in a row to slip to 6-22.
Efes raced to a fast start with triples from Rodrigue Beaubois and Simon making it 2-10 after just 2 minutes. Earl Clark struck from deep as Buducnost tried to hit back, but Simon made another three-pointer and Dunston scored 4 to give Efes a double-digit lead. Pleiss beat the first-quarter buzzer for a 19-27 advantage and scored the opening basket of the second before a 7-0 run featuring James Bell’s triple pulled Buducnost back. But Pleiss scored three times and Brock Motum twice as Efes ran riot with a 0-15 charge. Bitadze scored 5 quick points, but the red-hot Pleiss's hook shot took Efes past the half-century mark. Buducnost finished the first half with a 9-2 run featuring two scores apiece for Clark and Jackson, making it 40-53 at the break. Simon and Dunston started the third quarter with all the points a 0-9 run for a 22-point lead, before a trio of baskets from Petar Popovic made it closer, 58-71, after three quarters. A triple from Bitadze helped make it a 10-point game, but Micic twice struck from deep to settle Efes. The home team never gave up and came within 6 as Jackson capped a 14-3 run with a layup and a pair of triples, but it was too late for a serious comeback and Efes cruised home.
Big men excel for Efes
Visiting coach Ergin Ataman was able to call upon a perfect one-two punch in the big man role, with starter Bryant Dunston converting 4 of 6 two-point attempts in his total of 14 points and Tibor Pleiss coming off the bench to make 8 of his 11 two-pointers. Those two players were key in Efes's excellent inside game, which saw the Turkish team go 23 of 38 inside the arc, a solid conversion rate of 60.5%.
Free throw accuracy
This was a physical game featuring a lot of free throws and nearly all of them were made. Buducnost converted 16 of its 19 attempts (84.2%) from the foul line and Efes was even more accurate with 18 of 19 (94.7%).
Both teams moved the ball well in a high-scoring game, reflected in a high number of assists. Buducnost dished 19 (its joint-second highest tally of the season), while Efes had 21. A total of 14 players registered at least 1 assist, led by Vasilije Micic (6) and Kruno Simon (5). Three Buducnost players had 4 assists: Norris Cole, Nemanja Gordic and Petar Popovic.
Efes is on the road again to take on KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz in Round 29. Buducnost will also travel to Spain for a date with FC Barcelona Lassa.
Thursday, March 21, 2019