Efes KO's Barcelona to reach Final Four
Anadolu Efes Istanbul is headed to the Final Four for the first time in 18 years after disposing of FC Barcelona Lassa 80-71 on Wednesday at Sinan Erdem Dome in Game 5 of their best-of-five EuroLeague Playoffs series. Efes will face crosstown rival Fenerbahce in the semifinals in Vitoria-Gasteiz on May 17. Adrien Moerman and Shane Larkin scored 18 points apiece to pace the winners, who completed a remarkable turnaround after finishing in last place one season ago. Rodrigue Beaubois and James Anderson netted 11 points each and Vasilije Micic tallied 10 points, 10 assists and 3 steals in the victory. Barcelona started hot and led by as many as 7 in the first half, but Efes finished the second quarter strong to lead 47-42 at the break and extended that margin to 11 in the fourth quarter before holding off a late rally. Chris Singleton and Thomas Heurtel scored 12 points each for Barcelona and Ante Tomic added 10. Singleton also collected 8 rebounds and 3 steals in defeat.
Barcelona jumped ahead early with Kevin Pangos and Pau Ribas hitting three-pointers on the team's first two possessions before Tomic put the visitors up 3-8. Krunoslav Simon took an early seat for Efes with 2 fouls, but Efes got threes from Larkin and Anderson to keep it close, 14-16. Tomic and Singleton had combined for 10 points when the first TV timeout stopped the game after 6 minutes. Micic got going for Efes and closed the deficit to 21-24. Singleton connected from downtown to put Barcelona ahead by 7, however, Micic spotted Tibor Pleiss for a slam that ended the first quarter at 23-28. Heurtel scored twice for Barcelona early in the second quarter. Efes responded and Micic set up Pleiss for another slam that prompted a Barcelona timeout at 29-32. Efes got within 2 twice before Micic gave the hosts their first lead, 40-39, with a three from the corner. Moerman added a triple for a 44-42 edge that got the arena rocking and caused Barcelona to call a timeout. The visitors were held scoreless for the final 3 and a half minutes of the half, which Efes finished ahead 47-42 on three by Anderson.
It took more than 3 minutes before Bryant Dunston made free throws for the first points by either team in the second half. Tomic and Singleton ended the Barcelona drought, but Moerman kept the margin at 5 midway through the third quarter. Larkin knocked down a second-chance triple to make it 57-50. Hanga made a layup and a three-pointer before Kyle Kuric's pull-up jumper drew Barcelona within 58-57. Larkin's fifth three of the night gave Efes a 61-57 edge through three quarters. Efes opened the fourth-quarter scoring with back-to-back three-pointers by Anderson and Moerman for the game's first double-digit lead, 67-57. Pierre Oriola snapped a Barcelona cold spell with free throws and Heurtel made it 70-63, but a Beaubois triple restored the double-digit lead. After a timeout, Barcelona quickly halved the difference through Ribas and Singleton, 73-68. Despite Dunston free throws, Barcelona continued to attack and a Ribas three made it 75-71 with 1:35 to play. After a defensive stand by Efes, Moerman drilled a three from the corner that all-but locked up a Final Four ticket for Efes.
Vasilije Micic had a hand in everything for Efes on the team's big night. He amassed 11 points, 10 assists and 3 steals. His early scoring helped Efes stay in it during Barcelona's hot start before his passes helped get his teammates going. Fittingly, Micic gave Efes its first lead of the game with a three-pointer late in the second quarter. And of course, he set up Adrien Moerman for the triple in the final minute that put the game on ice.
Barcelona still had hope down 4 entering the final minute, however, Efes played lockdown defense to force a shot-clock violation and then Adrien Moerman sank a three-pointer from the corner that decided the game and series. The home fans entered a state of ecstasy and there would be no coming back for the visiting side.
Larkin sets record
Shane Larkin's 5 three-pointers gave him 18 three-pointers in the series, which set a record for most in a EuroLeague Playoffs series. He bested the record of 17 set by Vassilis Spanoulis of Olympiacos Piraeus in 2017. Larkin came within a single point of the playoffs scoring record, too. He finished with 98 over five games; Terrell McIntyre had 99 for Montepaschi Siena in 2009. Bryant Dunston's 9 blocks were 1 off the playoff record for a series, shared by Richard Hendrix and D'Or Fischer, both with Maccabi Tel Aviv. And Vasilije Micic's 33 assists are tied for third-most in a series; that record is 36 by Kostas Sloukas last season.
Efes from deep!
In its 408th EuroLeague game this century – do-or-die pressure or not – Efes not only tied its club record with 17 three-pointers made, but set a new EuroLeague Playoffs record, as well. Its 39 three-pointers attempted were also a playoffs record. Shane Larkin hit 5 of those triples, Adrien Moerman 4, Rodrigue Beaubois and James Anderson 3 each. With Barcelona's 8 threes, the teams combined for 25 total, surpassing by 3 the previous record in a Game 5, when Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar's beat Barcelona 81-67 in 2016.
Both teams hot early
Game 5 pressure didn't stop either team's scorers from getting going. The 51 points after 10 minutes (23-28) was the highest-scoring first quarter ever in 10 Game 5s to date, with Barcelona's total the most for a road team. The 47-42 halftime score tied for the most points after 20 minutes of a Game 5 with Lokomotiv's 50-39 edge over Barcelona in 2016.
Wednesday, May 1, 2019