Milan holds off Efes, improves to 4-0
AX Armani Exchange Milan continued its perfect start to the season season by beating reigning Turkish Airlines EuroLeague champion Anadolu Efes Istanbul 75-71 at the Mediolanum Forum on Friday night. The victory improved Milan’s record to 4-0, while Efes drop to 0-4. Milan took control of the game and opened a double digit lead thanks to a 21-2 run that bridged the second and third quarters. The hosts kept Efes at bay until midway through the fourth quarter when the visitors started their rally and got within 63-60, but never closer than that. Malcolm Delaney paced Milan with 16 points and 5 assists. Devon Hall netted 13 points, Shavon Shields had 12, and Luigi Datome scored 11, with each player hitting 3 triples apiece. Vasilije Micic scored 15 of his 17 points in the first 15 minutes, and had 5 assists for the night. Shane Larkin had 13 points plus 9 rebounds, Adrien Moerman scored 12 and Filip Petrusev 10 points in the loss.
Petrusev scored inside and Moerman hit from the outside for Efes, but Delaney nailed a triple on the other end and Hall had a fastbreak layup to make it 7-7. Efes took control by scoring the next 9 points, a run which included two blocked shots by Petrusev and a triple from Chris Singleton. After Hall and Micic traded triples, threes from Datome and Sergio Rodriguez made it 16-21 after 10 minutes. Milan got within 20-21 early in the second, but Micic scored 6 points in a 0-7 run to open a 20-28 lead. A jumper from Rodrigue Beaubois made it 25-34 midway through the second, but Hall nailed a triple before Hines blocked Micic, leading to a basket from Delaney. A put-back from Dinos Mitoglou tied things at 34-34 before a triple from Shields put the hosts in front. Delaney's fastbreak layup capped a 14-0 run, and Shields knocked down another triple, putting Milan up 42-36 at halftime.
A short jumper from Delaney and another three-pointer from Shields made it 47-36. Larkin scored 4 points, but Datome had back-to-back threes to make it 53-42. Petrusev scored inside, but Delaney hit another three – Milan’s fourth in 5 minutes – to extend the margin to 56-44. Petrusev and Singleton kept Efes in range, but Hines scored an easy put-back and Jerian Grant nailed a half-court buzzer-beater to open a 63-49 lead after 30 minutes. Efes wasn't going away, however, not allowing a single basket in almost 4 minutes to open the fourth. A three-point play by Bryant Dunston and back-to-back threes from Tolga Gecim and Moerman helped get Efes within 63-60. Mitoglou snapped a 0-11 run with a triple, and followed it by nailing a long jumper. A three-pointer from Hall helped Milan restore a double-digit lead, 73-62. Gecim and Moerman again hit back-to-back threes, and Efes got within 73-69 with 28 seconds to go, but Milan prevailed.
Milan's strong first-half finish
Efes controlled the game in the first 15 minutes and led 25-34 midway through the second quarter, but Milan scored 14 unanswered points over the next 4 minutes. During that span, Milan's defense kept the visitors scoreless, turning a 9-point deficit into a 39-34 lead, then Shavon Shields hit another triple to make it a 17-2 spurt and give Milan 42-36 halftime lead. During the run, which Devon Hall started with a three-pointer, Shields hit a pair of threes, Malcolm Delaney scored a pair of baskets, and Dinos Mitoglou battled for a put-back layup in traffic. In addition, Kyle Hines delivered a big block on Vasilije Micic, and scored 2 free throws, making this big run a true team effort.
Key stats: Milan’s three-point shooting
Milan netted 14 three-point shots in Friday’s meeting with Efes, and it proved decisive against the defending champions. The hosts attempted one more triple (33) than it did two-point shots (32), and Milan also made one more triple (14) than it scored twos (13). The key was that the three-pointers were often wide open shots, a product of a good ball movement. Milan finished with 22 assists, compared to 15 dishes by Efes. The visitors made just 8-of-26 three-pointers, and also had 12 turnovers to Milan's 9. Too much for Efes to overcome in a 4-point game.
Gecim gives Efes a spark
With Milan up by 14 points, and with the game getting out of hand, Efes got a spark from an unlikely name. Tolga Gecim entered the action in the final minute of the third quarter, then early in the fourth nailed a triple and pulled down an important defensive rebound. He continued building confidence with a pair of assists, and helped get Efes within 63-60. Gecim hit another three-pointer late in the game, in Efes's attempt for a late comeback, and finished with 6 points, 2 assists and 1 rebound in 10:39 on the floor. It's arguably the biggest impact the 25-year old forward has made so far in his third year with the team, and if he can provide quality minutes like in this game, Gecim could play a significant role in a long season ahead for Efes.
Friday, October 15, 2021