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EUROLEAGUE > Efes battles for survival against Olympiacos

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Anadolu Efes will challenge Turkish Airlines Euroleague champion Olympiacos in Istanbul tonight, hoping to stay in the playoffs

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Joshua Shipp of Anadolu Efes (R) jumps to score in front of Kostas Papanikolaou of Olympiakos during their Euroleague playoff basketball match on April 12, 2013 in Athens. AFP photo

Joshua Shipp of Anadolu Efes (R) jumps to score in front of Kostas Papanikolaou of Olympiakos during their Euroleague playoff basketball match on April 12, 2013 in Athens. AFP photo

Anadolu Efes will try to continue its playoff series when it hosts reigning Turkish Airlines Euroleague champion Olympiacos in Istanbul tonight. After two defeats last week, Efes trails 2-0 in the best-of-five playoffs series and will need the backing of its fans to force a fourth game. 

While Game 1 was a nail-biter not decided till the final minute, Olympiacos dominated second game by a margin of victory of 18. Efes, however, is considerably stronger at home, where it is 9-3 this season – including a 26-point thumping of Olympiacos in October. Coach Oktay Mahmuti refused to concede that the series is over. “In the first two games of the series unfortunately we could not succeed what we previously planned. We were wanting to return back to Istanbul with at least one win. But the series is going on,” the coach said. “If we win the first game in Istanbul the fourth game will be here too. Our aim is to win those two games and then there will be a great fight for Final Four in Athens.” While veteran big man Kerem Gönlüm has stood out thus far in the playoffs, effectively doubling his regular season production, many of Efes’s best players have yet to find their footing in the series, with Jordan Farmar leading. Though he is Efes’s leading scorer this season, Farmar did not reach double figures in points in either game, is 0-for-7 from downtown and has committed 6 turnovers.

In fact, Efes as a whole is struggling with its shot, having made just 3 of 34 three-pointers (8.8%) so far and will need to drastically improve that number to have a real chance at taking Olympiacos down. Alongside improving its own attack, Efes must find ways to limit Olympiacos’s top players, among them Vassilis Spanoulis, who leads the series in assists; Georgios Printezis, who leads the series in scoring; and Kyle Hines. Shooting guard Sasha Vujacic, swingman Jamon Lucas, power forward Dusko Savanovic and center Semih Erden are also high on the list of players Efes needs to come through in Game 3. If Vujacic and Savanovic can find their respective shooting strokes, it would open the floor, create space for Erden inside and open lanes for Farmar and Lucas. At the other end, Savanovic and Gonlum must contain Printezis and Kostas Papanikolaou, while Lucas and Farmar need to limit Spanoulis. 

Efes forward Dusko Savanovic said: “We want to win the third game and then comes the fourth game. We want to extend the series into the fifth game. From the beginning of the season our goal is to reach the Final Four. We will try to do our best.” 

April/17/2013

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