Efes Pilsen stayed undefeated in Group D and ties with CSKA for first place by downing Armani Jeans Milano 71-81 on the road on Wednesday night. Efes improved to 2-0 while AJ Milano dropped to 0-2. Milos Vujanic led the winners with 19 points. Bootsy Thornton added 17, Charles Smith had 14, Michalis Kakiouzis got 12 while Kerem Gonlum contributed 10 and 9 rebounds for Efes. David Hawkins led Milano with 20 points. Jobey Thomas added 14, Marco Mordente had 13 while Mike Hall got 10 for the hosts. A three-point play by Vujanic gave Efes a 17-20 lead after 10 minutes. Efes improved its defense while Smith, Vujanic and Kakiouzis boosted the guests' lead to 33-43 at halftime. A three-pointer by Thornton broke the game open, 39-58, late in the third quarter. Thomas, Mordente and Hawkins brought Milano within 69-75 but Thornton stepped up to make a more experienced Efes seal a well-deserved win.
Hall got Milano going with a turnaround jumper but Smith answered from downtown for a 2-3 Efes lead. Yohann Sangare took over with a big move in the low post while Thomas added a reverse layup to put Milano ahead, 6-3. Thornton shined with his trademark fallaway jumper and fed Kaya Peker for an easy basket, good to restore a 6-7 Efes edge. Smith nailed his second three-pointer to cap a 0-7 run but Hawkins took over with a driving basket to get Milano within 8-10. Vujanic joined the three-point shootout but Hall and Thomas combined for 5 quick points to tie the game at 13-13. Milano had improved its defense, not allowing any easy shots now. Gonlum stepped on court to give Efes more intensity at both ends while Smith made free throws. Thomas sank a mid-range jumper that Gonlum erased with an easy layup. Joey Beard shined with a jump hook that Vujanic improved with a layup-plus-foul to give Efes a 17-20 edge after 10 minutes.
Hawkins provided a highlight with a power layup - and the free throw that came with it - early in the second quarter. Thornton sank his first three-pointer while Kakiouzis added an easy layup to give Efes a 20-25 lead. Smith shined with a big block on Marco Mordente, as Efes used its experience to slow down the game tempo. Kakiouzis struck from downtown to give Efes a 20-28 margin. Milano had been scoreless for more than 5 minutes until Thomas sank a mid-range shot. Efes dominated the game with its zone defense but Mason Rocca stepped up with a layup to get the hosts within 24-30. Kakiouzis took over with another triple but Rocca shined with his trademark power layup. Peker and Ender Arslan sank free throws to boost Efes' lead to 27-36. Hall and Thornton traded free throws while Hawkins sank a step-back triple to make Efes call timeout at 32-38. Vujanic followed a three-point play with foul shots to give Efes a 33-43 halftime margin.
Vujanic collected a steal in the inbound pass and fed Peker for an easy basket that Hawkins matched with a big dunk. Thornton quickly answered from downtown for a 35-48 Efes margin early in the third quarter. Hawkins kept pacing Milano with free throws that Gonlum erased with a layup. Kakiouzis took over with a layup-plus-foul while Thomas fired in a jumper to get Milano within 39-53. Thornton scored off another steal by Vujanic and then beat the hosts' 2-3 zone defense with a triple coming off a screen to break the game open, 39-58. Rocca tried to change things with a fast break layup while Mordente fired in a running three-pointer to make Efes call timeout at 44-58. The guests slowed down the game tempo and Smith beat the shot clock with a wide open triple. Mordente and Smith traded shots from downtown while free throws by Kakiouzis and Hawkins fixed the score at 49-65 at the end of the third quarter.
Milano needed a major comeback to keep its options alive but Efes stayed focused early in the fourth quarter. Cenk Akyol stepped up with an easy basket while the guests did not allow any points in the opening two minutes of this period. Mordente nailed another three-pointer and fed Beard for a reverse layup to give the hosts some hope, 54-67, with 7 minutes to go. Gonlum silenced the crowd with a dunk but Hall answered to keep Milano within 58-69. Efes now struggled against the hosts' zone defense but coach Ergin Ataman called timeout to solve his team's problems. Vujanic and Hawkins traded three-pointers while free throws by Mordente brought the hosts within 63-72 with less than 3 minutes to go. Thomas struck from downtown to give Milano some hope, 66-72. Vujanic and Hawkins joined the three-point shootout while Thornton sealed the outcome with a layup already in the final minute, as Milano ran out of time to complete its comeback.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008