Anadolu Efes stays alive in Euroleague, displaying strong performance to beat Olympiacos
Semih Erden had a crucial contribution on April 17 night as he tallied 15 points and nine rebounds for Efes. AA photo
Anadolu Efes stayed alive in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague playoffs, outplaying 83-72 the defending champions Olympiacos at Abdi İpekçi Arena April 17. The Istanbul side brought the series to 1-2, securing a fourth game that will be played April 19 in front of their fans. If the Blues clinch another win, the decider for a Final Four spot is set to take place next week in Piraeus.
Coach Oktay Mahmudi's players did not repeat the mistakes made in the two previous games, showing a solid rebounding effort that matched their rivals’ and improving their shooting behind the arc. Led by former NBA talent Jordan Farmar and Serbian forward Dusko Savanovic, Efes topped their incisive start leading 19-17 after the end of the first quarter. Olympiacos stole the lead halfway through the second quarter 27-28, to which the Blues, far from being discouraged, responded with a 10-1 run.
After the break, Efes continued to increase the gap as former Lakers star Sasha Vujacic took the stage and put the scoreboard to 65-46. The Greeks did not let go of the game though, and kept Efes scoreless during the first two minutes of the fourth quarter. But neither Vassilis Spanoulis nor Georgios Printezis, lethal in the first two games, were able to enter the game and Efes resisted the surge with Farmar and veteran Kerem Gönlüm. Farmar dished out another three-pointer to destroy all Greek hopes, and the Blues cruised to a big victory, in their bid of reaching a Final Four spot for the second time in its history.
Savanovic and Semih Erden tallied 15 points each for Efes, while Jamon Lucas finished with 13 points, nine boards, seven assists and three steals. Acie Law scored 19 points for the visitors and Printezis added 11. Spanoulis led once again his team with eight assists.
Elsewhere, Spanish giants Real Madrid became April 16 the first side to get the final four ticket, beating Israel's Maccabi Electra 57-63 in the third game in Tel Aviv. Meanwhile their arch-foes Barcelona had the opposite fate, as they were defeated 65-63 by Panathinaikos in a thrilling game in Athens. Barça also lost the home court advantage and now needs to win game four in the Greek cauldron to push the series to a win-or-exit showdown.