TD Systems Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz arrived to Turkey with very good momentum after getting a road victory against Olympiacos Piraeus for the first time since the 2007 playoffs. It was the perfect moment to face a powerhouse like Anadolu Efes Istanbul at Sinan Erdem Sports Hall, and Baskonia did everything right, recording an impressive 59-77 win. It was Efes's lowest score in a EuroLeague game since getting 58 against Olympiacos on December 22, 2017, and none of its players reached double digits in scoring: Shane Larkin led the hosts with 8 points against his former team.
"I think that the keys to the game tonight were three and my players knew them. They had to play with self-confidence and believe in the team, and they have to believe in our game, and to fight. And they did all three things to perfection," Baskonia head coach Dusko Ivanovic said after the game. "I think we played really well on defense tonight. In every moment, every player knew what to do. They knew how to play defense against each opposing player and did it against a team that has maybe the best offensive talent in Europe."
Baskonia ran its game through its frontcourt and those big men made the difference. Peters kept his personal momentum going against his former team, leading the winners with 18 points while making 4 of 7 two-pointers and 3 of 7 three-pointers. He added 7 rebounds, 3 assists and a block for a performance index rating of 20.
"I felt good, obviously. You are familiar with the gym, so I was familiar with being here. I really wanted to have a good one today and I really wanted the win, so I am glad that we were able to accomplish that," Peters said right after the game. "It was a big-time team job. Our team did a great job today."
Peters got plenty of help from his frontcourt teammates. Tonye Jekiri comes off the bench for 8 points and 8 rebounds in less than 17 minutes. Youssoupha Fall was equally effective, getting 12 points, 4 rebounds and a block for a PIR of 15 in 17 minutes. Achille Polonara buried his three shots from downtown on his way to 12 points, 6 rebounds and a PIR of 19.
All four frontcourt players combined for 51 points and 25 rebounds. On the other hand, Chris Singleton, Adrien Moerman, Bryant Dunston and Sertac Sanli combined for 24 points and 16 rebounds. Indeed, Baskonia's big man made the difference in this game.
Polonara sparked a 0-9 run with a three-pointer that he closed for another bomb from downtown. That gave Baskonia its first double-digit margin, 39-51. Efes didn't recover, and another 0-12 run which playmaker Pierria Henry capped with a dunk off a steal sealed the outcome, 50-72, midway through the fourth quarter.
Peters summarized better than anyone after the game. "We did a really good job at being consistent the entire game. When we play with patience, and when we play our game and stick to it, and stay focused the whole time, we are going to be very tough to beat. We just have to put it all together every game," he said.
Baskonia now hopes to make the most out of its great form and outstanding defensive focus when it plays another offensive-minded team, Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv, at Buesa Arena on Thursday, December 10.