Efes roars in taking 2-0 series lead
Anadolu Efes Istanbul assumed full control of its Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Playoffs duel by routing visiting Real Madrid 91-68 on Thursday at Sinan Erdem Sports Hall to take a 2-0 lead in their their-best-of-five series. Efes outscored Real in all four quarters, getting at least 21 in each quarter and twice holding the visitors to 13. Vasilije Micic scored 23 points on near-perfect shooting to lead the Efes attack, Shane Larkin added 21 points and 5 assists and Rodrigue Beaubois contributed 11 points and 6 assists. Real, which was without star center Walter Tavares, was led by Trey Thompkins's 17 points. Rudy Fernandez added 11 points and Nicolas Laprovittola delivered 10 assists in defeat.
Thompkins opened the scoring with a jumper before Larkin broke the ice for Efes with a free throw. Thompkins remained hot with a triple and a baseline jumper, but Efes matched him shot for shot with the score at 7-7. Efes started to pull away with a Krunoslav Simon jumper and a Larkin layup. Back-to-back threes by Micic and Larkin capped a 10-1 run that made it 20-10. Fernandez gave the visitors a lift off the bench, but a jumper by Simon made it 22-13 after 10 minutes. Real's offense found a spark as Alex Tyus and Usman Garuba fed each other for dunks, however, Efes continued to cruise and a jumper by Beaubois made it 31-19 before Real called timeout. The teams kept trading points with the margin remaining in the 10-point range. Beaubois's jumper beat the halftime buzzer to give his team a 44-32 lead at the break.
Efes extended the lead through baskets by Larkin and Beaubois. A basket-plus-foul by the former made it 50-33. Felipe Reyes banked in a shot for Real's first basket of the half – nearly 4 minutes into the third quarter. Back-to-back threes by Micic and Sertac Sanli pushed the margin into the 20s. Reyes and Fernandez provided Real resistance, but free throws by Larkin ended the third quarter with the hosts leading 65-45. Tristan Vukcevic dunked for his first EuroLeague points, but Efes kept scoring and Micic pushed the hosts ahead 71-47 with a finger roll. The lead peaked at 87-60 on a deep three by Micic in the closing minutes as Efes claimed another convincing win to improve to 2-0 in the series.
Changes in the starting 5s
Only Nicolas Laprovittola and Jeffery Taylor have started both of the first two games of the series for Real Madrid. Alex Tyus, who did not play at all in Game 1, was joined by Trey Thompkins and Usman Garuba as the newcomers to the Real lineup. They replaced Alberto Abaldes, rookie Tristan Vukcevic and the injured Walter Tavares. Efes's only change in the lineup was opening with Shane Larkin in place of Rodrigue Beaubois.
Vasilije Micic led the Efes attack with 23 points on near-perfect shooting. He made 4 of 5 two-pointers and was perfect in 5 tries from behind the arc. He added 4 rebounds and 3 assists in compiling a performance index rating of 26. Micic bounced back after going for just 7 points on 1-of-9 shooting in Game 1.
Efes took fewer three-pointers than Real and made three times as many shots from downtown! Efes connected on 12 of 20 threes (60%) while Real struggled and connected on only 4 of 25 (16%).
Oldest to score
Real veteran Felipe Reyes netted a season-high 6 points in becoming the oldest player to score in a EuroLeague game. Reyes, the competition's all-time leading offensive rebounder, was 41 years, 1 month and 6 days old on the night of this game.
The series resumes on Tuesday, April 27, in the Spanish capital for Game 3 in which Efes will try to become the first team to clinch a berth at the 2021 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four. However, Real won't go down without a fight and will try to at least force a Game 4 on Thursday, April 29.
Thursday, April 22, 2021