Anadolu Efes succumbs against Malaga, suffering second straight defeat
Efes dropped to 9-4 and will play against Real Madrid in Spain next week for the last game of the Group E before the playoff stage. AA photo
Anadolu Efes suffered its second consecutive defeat in the Euroleague Top 16 after a 64-70 home court loss against Unicaja Malaga on March 28. The surprising Spaniards needed to snatch a victory and wait for Panathinaikos' defeat to carry their hopes of reaching the playoff stage to the last game.
Unicaja Malaga managed to fulfill their part of the challenge, improving to 7-6 in Group E, thanks to a stellar performance by Marcus Williams, who netted 22 points, adding 7 assists and 7 rebounds. Croatian center Luka Zoric got 21 points and 8 rebounds while Txemi Urtasun scored 12 for the victors.
Former NBA star Jordan Farmar once again led Efes with 13 points. Kerem Gönlüm added 11. Anadolu Efes, already qualified to the playoffs, dropped to 9-4 before the big showdown against Real Madrid in Spain next week.
The Istanbul side faced a three-point deficit at the end of the first period but quickly closed the gap after the recess using a solid defense. Gönlüm and Josh Shipp combined to complete a 13-1 run and Efes appeared to be on path to victory despite a small comeback by their rivals at the end of the period.
However the second half was another story as Marcus Williams took the helm of Malaga and gave back the lead to his team, tipping a 0-9 run. Efes was having trouble stopping Williams, so Zoric also stepped up for Malaga during the fourth quarter. The Istanbul side took back the lead and increased the gap to five points with five minutes left. But Zoric and Urtasun kept Malaga within a point and Williams turned the tables once again to 61-62. From that moment the Spaniards never looked back and cruised to a big road victory, their fifth consecutive in the Top 16 stage.