Anadolu Efes out to get victory in Berlin
Anadolu Efes is travelling to Berlin for a victory with eyes on the top two group spots, says the team’s Turkish international center Semih Erden (C).In an early Top 16 Group E showdown, Anadolu Efes takes on Alba Berlin in the German capital tonight with hopes of starting another winning streak.
Efes, second in Group E with a 7-2 win record and in a very good position to get to the playoffs, lost 75-62 at Panathinaikos last week following a record seven-game winning streak. Alba is seventh at 1-8 and is all but mathematically out of the playoffs race.
Anadolu Efes has a 3-1 road record against Alba, which won the teams’ last showdown in Berlin back in 2004. The Istanbul club also defeated Alba 71-62 in Top 16 Week 3 behind 15 points each from Dusko Savanovic and Jordan Farmar. Anadolu Efes coach Oktay Mahmuti does not expect an easy encounter against the Geramns. “We must not think of the place of our opponent in the standings table,” Mahmuti was quoted as saying on euroleague.net. “We must be serious on court. If we put our own game on court, I think that we can get one more victory.”
Efes center Semih Erden noted that the Alba game has become more important due to last week’s loss in Athens. “Our aim is to be among the first eight teams, we want to qualify from the first two places in our group to the playoffs to have the advantage,” Erden told euroleague.net. “Because of this we are aware of the importance of Top 16 games and we will go to Berlin to win.”
Traore helps Alba
Alba bolstered its frontcourt with Ali Traore, who has given the German powerhouse a physical presence. His rebounding skills, post moves and effective mid-range jumps are set to help Alba in the short run, but the host has other options around the baskets, such as rock-solid big-man Albert Miralles, mobile power forward Yassin Idbihi and above all, Deon Thompson, who has been Alba’s best player up to now.
Thompson will try to use his post moves against Savanovic in what promises to be a key matchup in this game. Thompson is more athletic, but Savanovic is a better ball handler and can pull the trigger from downtown. Traore and Miralles face a physical battle against Efes’ battery of big men, which features Semih Erden, Stanko Barac and Ermal Kuqo. Kerem Gönlüm will try to use his rebounding skills, experience and size against Idbihi.
Of course stopping Farmar will be a priority for Alba, as he can make the difference with his court vision, shooting range and one-on-one skills. Farmar faces an interesting test against scoring guard DaShaun Wood while Efes’ sixth man, Kerem Tunçeri, must be ready to guard explosive shooter Heiko Schaffartzik. Nihad Djedovic and Zach Morley will see most of the playing time from the wings for Alba, with Derrick Byars ready to come off the bench. Djedovic will test his shooting range and all-around scoring skills against elite shooter Sasha Vujacic. Morley will not have it easy against blue-collar small forward Josh Shipp.
Efes relies on Jamon Lucas to make the difference in the wings with his aggressiveness, outstanding on-the-ball defense and overall energy. Sinan Güler also offers intensity and explosiveness off the guest’s bench.
Alba needs to get its big men involved in the paint, especially Thompson and Traore. It needs a good game from Wood against Farmar and to dominate the boards to set the right game tempo and prevent Efes from running the floor. Efes needs Farmar, Lucas and Vujacic to make the difference on the perimeter and to set a high tempo to make the most out of their scoring skills. Semih Erden and Kerem Gönlüm must box out well to give Efes the opportunity to play in transition.