Belgacom Spirou bested Anadolu Efes 79-80
Belgacom Spirou worked hard to edge Anadolu Efes 79-80 in a Group C nail-biter at Abdi Ipekci Sports Hall in Istanbul on Wednesday as clutch shooting by Justin Hamilton in the final seconds made the difference. Both teams now have 1-1 records. Efes needed to play catch up after falling behind 10-24 in the first quarter. Caleb Green led the winners with 18 points, including 4-of-6 shooting from downtown, while Demond Mallet added 14, Christophe Beghin 13 and Hamilton came through with 12 points and 7 assists. Hamilton rescued the game with a clutch jumper under pressure with 11 seconds to go, followed by 2 crucial free throws that sealed the result. Ersan Ilyasova had the hot hand for the home squad, pouring in 21 points, followed by Tarence Kinsey with 14 and Sasha Vujacic with 12. Efes hustled back into the game in the second quarter and even managed to take the lead at 29-28, and kept it close afterwards. The score was tied at 76-76 in the fourth. But whenever Efes seemed poised to take over, Spirou had the answer. Despite committing 8 more turnovers, the visitors prevailed on the boards and in 2-point shooting percentage, which proved decisive.
After trailing throughout the opening few minutes, Spirou pushed ahead 4-5 on Beghin's turnaround jumper from 15 feet. The visitors extended their lead to 6-11 behind an easy lay-in by Hamilton and a pair of strong moves to the basket by Toko Shengelia. Spirou poured on its up-tempo attack as Shengelia found Hamilton wide open to convert from downtown for a 6-14 score, prompting Efes to call a timeout. The home squad committed 2 turnovers upon its return and Mallet nailed a jumper for Spirou's first double-digit lead. Green, coming in for Shengelia, converted on a three-point attempt, his first shot, to widen the gap further, 6-20. A pair of free throws and finger-roll in the lane by Ermal Kuqo finally ended the visitors' onslaught, but a long two-pointer by Jiri Welsch kept Spirou's lead in double-digits, 12-24. After a lull in the scoring, Kinsey scored 5 points in a row, including a last second three-pointer, to push Efes back into striking distance, 15-24.
The score remained unchanged until two minutes into the second quarter, which is when Vlado Ilievski cut the difference to 17-24, signaling a shift in momentum. Only when Efes got within 21-26 did Chris Hill answered with a layup for Spirou, but Ilievski buried a three-pointer in response. The hosts got closer on Ilyasova’s 2 free throws, then reclaimed the lead they lost in the game's initial minutes when Vujacic buried a three-pointer at 29-28. Baskets by Mallet and Hill answered free throws by Ilyasova, however, pushing Spirou out front again, 30-32. Kuqo hit a turnaround floater in the paint for Efes, but Mallet split foul shots before burying a three-pointer from well above the arc for a 32-38 score at the half.
After an exchange of baskets to kick off the second half, Vujacic nailed a three-pointer to make it 37-40. Mallet buried a turnaround from the corner and then Beghin scored the next 4 on foul shots and a layup as Hamilton found him with a bullet pass underneath to get to 39-46. Kinsey dunked after Welsch lost the handle, followed by an exchange of triples by Hamilton and Ilyasova. After Beghin split foul shots, Kuqo demonstrated his outside game by nailing a mid-range jumper. After Welsch lost the ball again, Hill came in to replace him. Ilyasova’s good shooting kept Efes in the game as he sunk free throws and hit a two-pointer to tie it at 51-51. After the teams swapped free throws, Beghin buried a two-pointer, but Ilyasova answered again, 54-56.. Green extended the lead to 3 on a free throw, but a cutting Vujacic converted a layup on pass from Kuqo. Good ball movement on the perimeter gave Green an open look for a three-pointer and he nailed it to end the quarter at 56-60.
The scoreboard didn’t budge for 2:30 as neither time found the basket, but Green got an easy layup after spinning to the basket. Stanko Barac answered with 4 consecutive points to cut the lead to 60-62. Hill answered from downtown to once again give Spirou a little breathing room. A rapid exchange of baskets ensued. Dogus Balbay dished off nicely to Barac, eating into the lead, 63-65, but Beghin was in right place at right time, converting an offensive board into 2. Then Ilysova answered as Efes stayed close, 65-67. Green hit a three and Ilysova kept up his torrid shooting, drilling a 2 pointer to get to 68-70. As the shot clock was about to run out, Green nailed a step-back three-pointer to shut the door on Efes once more, 68-73. Textbook inside-out ball movement got the ball to Mallet, who drained a triple for 70-76. Ilievski hit 4 consecutive free throws to get Efes within striking distance once more as the teams went into a timeout with 1:33 on the clock. Efes opened the final stretch with good defense against Green and Ilyasov converted on the other end, knotting the game at 76. Welsch missed an open look from corner, but Spirou got the rebound. Hill drove into the paint, but was rejected by Ilyasova, however the ball reached Hamilton. He elevated to hit a tough jumper with 11 seconds left to go out front, 76-78. Efesu opted for a three-point attempt by Ilievski, but it rimmed out. Hamilton was fouled and converted on both for a 4-point cushion. Kinsey hit a three-pointer with a second left, as Efes fell just short, 79-80.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011