Anadolu Efes loses nail-biter to Olympiakos in Euroleague playoffs

Anadolu Efes loses nail-biter to Olympiakos in Euroleague playoffs

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Anadolu Efes loses nail-biter to Olympiakos in Euroleague playoffs

Olympiakos' Georgios Printezis (L) fights for a rebound with Kerem Gönlüm of Anadolu Efes during their Euroleague playoff basketball game in Athens on April 10. AFP photo

Anadolu Efes fell just short in their effort to knock off defending Euroleague champions Olympiakos in the first game of their best-of-five playoff series in Piraeus, dropping a 67-62 decision to the Greek giants.

Efes, which finished the Top 16 round with a 9-5 record – just like Olympiakos – but ceded home-court advantage to the Greeks on the basis of a poorer ranking in the last round, pressed the Greeks hard but were ultimately undone by poor shooting from outside the arc, scoring just one of 19 three-point attempts.

Olympiakos was backed by a suitably enthusiastic crowd, but Efes stayed with their Greek hosts throughout the first two quarters, trailing just 17-15 at the end of the first quarter, and 33-32 at half-time.

Olympiakos forward Georgios Printezis led the way for the home team with 12 points in the first half, while the visitors opted to score by committee, with Efes’ American guard Alfred-Jamon Lucas Gordon leading his teammates with just eight points through two quarters.

The teams continued to trade baskets in the third quarter, but Olympiakos again entered the break with a slight lead, 50-46.

Efes looked to get the better of their hosts with a decisive fourth-quarter effort, but they were ultimately stymied, especially by the play of Printezis, who ultimately finished with 26, including a career-high four three-pointers. Star Olympiakos playmaker Vassilis Spanoulis, meanwhile, finished with nine points and eight assists. Kerem Gönlüm topped all Efes scorers with 17 points.

Efes is aiming to reach the Final Four of the premier club competition in Europe for the first time since 2001.

The two teams will do battle again on April 12 in the Greek capital before moving to Istanbul for Game 3 on April 17.

Elsewhere in Euroleague action on April 10, CSKA Moscow defeated Spain’s Caja Laboral 89-78, while Real Madrid easily dispatched Maccabi Tel Aviv 79-53 in the late game. A day earlier, Barcelona edged Panathinaikos 72-70.