Efes wins in Milan, is first to 8 wins
In a battle for the right to remain sitting atop the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague standings, Anadolu Efes Istanbul went on the road to edge AX Armani Exchange Milan 76-81 on Thursday night at Mediolanum Forum. Efes improved to 8-2 and will be at least in a share of the best record at the end of this round, while Milan lost at home for the first time this season and dropped to 7-3. Efes spent most of the night in front, but never had a lead bigger than 8 points. The teams were tied at 68-68 midway through the fourth quarter before Shane Larkin took over to put Efes in front for good and the visitors held on. Larkin scored 9 of his 17 points in the last 4 minutes of the game and also dished 5 assists and Tibor Pleiss came up huge with 14 points plus 12 rebounds. Chris Singleton added 11 points and Rodrigue Beaubois 10 in the victory. Sergio Rodriguez had 11 points and 9 assists for the hosts, Vladimir Micov scored 10 points and Jeff Brooks had 8 points, 8 rebounds and 4 blocks in defeat.
The teams traded little runs from the get-go. Pleiss inside and Beaubois from the outside got Efes started, but back-to-back threes from Brooks and Roll helped the hosts to 12-9. Efes replied with a 0-7 run which featured Krunoslav Simon's three-point play, but a corner three from Aaron White made it 17-16 after 10 minutes. Threes from Brooks and White extended it to 25-19, but Larkin scored 7 points, including a pair of threes, and with help from Sertac Sanli and Beaubois the visitors went in front 30-36. Milan was quick to reply with another run, this time 7-0. Roll nailed a corner three and Rodriguez connected with Tarczewski for a monster alley-oop dunk, but Efes scored the final 5 points of the quarter and went into halftime up 39-41. A dunk by Pleiss extended it to 39-45 early in the third, but Milan used a triple from Nemanja Nedovic and baskets from Luis Scola and Kaleb Tarczewski, both set up by Rodriguez, to tie it at 49-49. Efes went on another run, 0-8 during which Anderson and Micic hit three-pointers. Rodriguez drained a three of his own, Nedovic added another one and then Shelvin Mack took over scoring 6 points in the final minute of the third and opening minutes of the fourth quarter to put the hosts up 64-62. The teams traded baskets and were tied at 68-68 when Larkin drove for an easy layup and then made 3 free throws before Chris Singleton nailed a triple to make it 71-77. Rodriguez hit from downtown to keep Milan in it, but Efes made a pair of defensive stands before Larkin sealed the game from the free-throw line.
Efes ends tradition
This is the 10th consecutive season Milan and Efes will go against each other in the EuroLeague. Going into this one, the home teams have won the last nine games between them and 16 of the last 17. Milan also was undefeated at home this season, but Efes ended all of the streaks with this win.
Cool from the stripe
Efes jumped into the lead as the best free-throw shooting team on this night, making 23 of 24 free throws, which was crucial in such a close road game. Efes made its first 18 attempts before Krunoslav Simon splits free throws with 1:29 to go. This free throw performance came just 48 hours after Efes made 25 of 26 in a road win at LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne.
In the absence of starting center Bryant Dunston, Efes coach Ergin Ataman gave 24:19 minutes, the most this season, and Pleiss responded with 14 points, 12 rebounds and 2 blocks. Those 12 boards were just one shy of his personal high. Pleiss made all 6 of his two-pointers and both free throws in this game; the only shot he missed was a three-point attempt.
Milan's block party
Milan entered the game with just 21 blocked shots on the season, for a 2.3 per game average, good for 13th place in the rankings. In this game alone Milan blocked 8 shots, tying a club record. Jeff Brooks had 4 and Kaleb Tarczewski and Paul Biligha 2 apiece.
Next week in Round 11 both teams play on Friday. Efes will host FC Bayern Munich, while Milan goes on the road to face Olympiacos Piraeus.
Thursday, November 21, 2019