Efes Pilsen registered its first win in Group B by edging Partizan 77-67 in front of 8,000 fans at Abdi Ipecki Sports Hall in Istanbul, Turkey on Thursday night. Efes improved to 1-1 and ties for third place in this group, right behind undefeated leaders Unicaja and Lietuvos Rytas. Meanwhile, Partizan dropped to 0-2 and needs to start winning right away to get closer to the Top 16. Charles Smith led the winners with 18 points. Preston Shumpert added 17 while Igor Rakocevic had 14 for Efes. Aleks Maric led Partizan with 19 points. Bo McCalebb and Jan Vesely each added 10 for the guests. McCalebb also had a game-high 7 assists for Partizan, that led 35-37 at halftime. Smith took over with a dunk and consecutive three-pointers in a 10-0 run that put Efes ahead for good, 55-47. Partizan kept trying and Maric singlehandedly brought his team within 70-66 with under 2 minutes left. A key basket by Kaya Peker and an outstanding Rakocevic allowed Efes to seal a well-deserved win.
Efes coach Ergin Ataman opted to use both Peker and Mario Kasun in the starting lineup, looking for quick points in the paint. Kerem Tunceri got the hosts going with a corner jumper but Maric dunked it and Branislav Dekic added a three-pointer for a 2-5 Partizan edge. Efes finally got its big men involved, as Kasun followed an off-balance jumper with a second-chance layup while Peker scored down low for a 8-5 score. Maric hit an uncontested layup while free throws by McCalebb tied the game, 9-9. Kasun struggled to score once Slavko Vranes stepped on court and Efes tried to change its game plan. Peker rescued the hosts with a jump hook, as Partizan lost its scoring reference without Vesely and Dekic on court now. Maric kept pacing the guests with foul shots while Strahinja Milosevic dunked it off a steal for a 11-13 Partizan edge. Bootsy Thornton downed free throws and even when Milosevic dunked it again coming off the baseline, more foul shots by Smith tied the game again, 15-15, after 10 minutes.
Efes switched to a 2-3 zone defense early in the second quarter and tried to open the court with Shumpert, Bostjan Nachbar and Smith together on court. Shumpert stepped up with a six-meter jumper while Smith struck from downtown for a 20-16 Efes edge. Vranes scored around the basket but Ender Arslan matched it with a coast-to-coast layup. Smith provided a highlight with a fast break dunk - and the free throw that came with it. Vesely took over with a fallaway jumper off a Partizan timeout but the guests missed Maric, that sat on the bench with 3 fouls. Partizan soon entered the foul bonus and free throws by a red hot Smith made it a seven-point game, 27-20. Shumpert and Lawrence Roberts traded layups while McCalebb gave Partizan some hope at 29-24. Vesely fed Dusan Kecman for a fast break layup and nailed consecutive triples to tie the game, 32-32. Free throws by McCalebb completed the guests' comeback, 32-34, after a 3-14 run. Rakocevic and Roberts traded three-pointers to fix the halftime score at 35-37.
Efes tried Shumpert as power forward immediately after the break, trying to open the court as much as possible. He stepped up with consecutive three-pointers to put Efes back ahead, 41-39. Partizan used a tall lineup with Vesely at small forward but could not get Roberts and Maric involved now. Kasun hustled to score down low but a tip-in by Maric kept the guests as close as 43-42. Kasun kept pacing Efes but a three-pointer by Kecman tied it at 45-45. Roberts took over with a huge dunk but Efes reajusted its defense. Meanwhile, Smith followed a fast break slam with consecutive three-pointers in a 10-0 run that gave the hosts their biggest lead that far, 55-47. Milosevic rescued Partizan with a driving layup and McCalebb soon copied him to keep the guests in the game, 55-51. Rakocevic banked in a close jumper but McCalebb matched it with free throws for a 57-53 Partizan deficit after 30 minutes.
Vesely sank free throws early in the fourth quarter while Maric added a power layup to tie the game again, 57-57. Rakocevic scored in penetration and Shumpert added a baseline jumper to give Efes some fresh air, 61-57. Partizan called timeout, as Efes had managed to stop McCalebb with good on-the-ball defense. Thornton shined with a driving layup while Peker added an easy basket for a 65-57 Efes lead with 6 minutes left. The game had turned into a physical battle and Efes made the most out of it. A free throw by Thornton capped a 9-0 run that put the hosts ahead for good, 66-57. Maric scored again while Kecman sank a jumper to bring the guests back to life, 66-61. Tunceri fed Thornton for a fast break layup that Maric matched with a five-meter jumper. Rakocevic shined with a fast break basket but Maric stayed unstoppable and kept Partizan as close a 70-66. Peker scored down low while free throws by Rakocevic allowed all Efes fans to celebrate their team's first Euroleague win this season.
Thursday, October 29, 2009