Shane Larkin might have stolen the headlines with his weekly MVP-worthy heroics, but there was also another key individual performance for Anadolu Efes Istanbul in Friday night’s crucial 92-70 home victory against FC Barcelona Lassa.
While Larkin dazzled in the backcourt, the dominant character in the frontcourt was his teammate Adrien Moerman, who played a major role in Efes’s ability to dominate the boards by hauling down 11 rebounds (8 defensive, 3 offensive) – more than the total claimed by visiting big men Ante Tomic (7), Pierre Oriola (3) and Kevin Seraphin (0) combined.
Moerman, of course, knew exactly what he was going up against because he was the teammate of those Barcelona players last season, so he was fully aware of the importance placed upon rebounding by visiting coach Svetislav Pesic.
The Frenchman, however, is much more than just a rebounder, and another key aspect of his contribution was his total of 22 points – the second-highest in the game behind Larkin – on 3-of-5 two-point shooting and 4-of-8 three-point attempts. That was the second-highest total of Moerman’s 118-game EuroLeague career, just behind the 23 points he mustered against both Zalgiris Kaunas and AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan earlier this season.
It continued a remarkably consistent campaign for Moerman, who has now recorded a PIR in double figures in ten consecutive games and registered three double-doubles this season. And with an average PIR of 16.4 per game, he is currently the eighth-best performer in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague.
On Friday night, the combined powers of Moerman and Larkin were far too much for Barcelona to handle, and the outcome was not just a victory – sending Efes a game ahead of the visiting side in fourth place – but also a win of sufficient magnitude to claim the potentially decisive head to head advantage between the teams. Barcelona won 80-65 when the teams met in Spain in Round 15, but the 22-point margin in Efes’s favour on Friday night was more than enough to overturn that difference.
And if he maintains his current form, the season could well conclude with Moerman making his first appearance at the Final Four – quite possibly at the expense of his former team.