Sparks flew in Istanbul on Thursday evening in a Group B clash between two Euroleague powerhouses, and when the dust settled Efes Pilsen emerged victorious at home by 66-63 against Winterthur FC Barcelona. Once again, the defensive wall of Efes, especially in the paint, simply didn't allow the guests to get near the basket. On the other side, Henry Domercant shined on offense to lead Efes with 23 points distributed evenly over 40 minutes. He also pulled 8 rebounds. Niksa Prkacin helped him with 16 valuable points in the paint for Efes. For Barcelona, also only two players reached double digits as Juan Carlos Navarro led the way with 18 points and Michalis Kakiouzis bagged 14 with 7 rebounds. Efes climbs to the top of Group B with a 2-0 record, while Barcelona drops to 1-1.
Efes ran out to a 6-0 lead capped by a triple from Marko Popovic in minute 2. Navarro fed Gregor Fucka to start Barcelona's scoring but Efes shined on offense as Kaya Peker finished a fastbreak slamming the ball for 10-2, forcing the visitors' first timeout. Barcelona's defenseweak in the paint, allowing Domercant to forge the first 10-point lead, 14-4, with a layup. Navarro scored fast to let Barcelona breathe, and soon he and Mikhalis Kakiouzis got open and connected for 2 straight triples to get their team back in the game. That was the start for a personal seven-point streak by Kakiouzis that pulled Barcelona within 18-16, but Domercant started a response by Efes. When he and Ender Arslan got done at the free throw line, Efes had a 7-0 run and a 25-16 advantage after 10 minutes.
Efes dominated the early second quarter with defense, going up by 11 points, 29-18, when Kerem Gonlum made a hook shot. Kakiouzis went to the bench with consecutive fouls, but just as quickly, Jordi Trias and Fucka boosted Barcelona within 29-22. The visitors' run was extended to 0-7 when Gianluca Basile nailed a three-pointer. Still, Domercant was on fire and, at this point, the only scoring protagonist for the hosts. Now a couple of scoreless minutes passed until Gonlum broke the spell with a layup that made it 33-25. A Trias offensive rebound and tip-in for Barcelona ended the half with Efes ahead 33-27.
The second half started with Williams boosting Barcelona with a triple among 5 straight points that got the guests close again, at 33-32. However, Prkacin and Peker answered on the inside for Efes to restore a 37-32 lead. A nifty move by Fucka in the paint and a triple by Navarro was need now for Barcelona to tie 39-39. Domercant stole and dunked for Efes, but Navarro found another impossible three-pointer to put Barcelona ahead for the first time, 41-42. The visitors' defense continued having trouble inside, however, as Prkacin scored over Denis Marconato, but Basile was there from downtown for Barcelona to forge a 47-47 tie after 30 minutes.
The final period continued the basket-for-basket rhythm. Popovic blasted a three for Efes, but Kakiuozis replied from inside for 52-51 score. After a timeout, Efes changed the trend with a 7-0 run in which Domercant hit a triple and dunked to put his team in charge at 59-51. Fucka found the basket to break Barcelona's drought, but Domercant punished Barcelona's rim again with a new triple for 62-53. The defensive wall underneath of Efes was too much for the visitors to overcome. The lead was again up to 10 points when Popovic scored 2 free throws for 64-54 with 2 minutes to go. In the remaining plays, turnovers doomed Barcelona as Efes kept on pouring in free throws on the way to victory.
Thursday, November 10, 2005