Spectacular Larkin inspires Efes past Barcelona
Anadolu Efes Istanbul struck a big blow in the race for fourth place by earning a hugely commanding 92-70 home victory over FC Barcelona Lassa, in large part thanks to a stunning individual display from Shane Larkin. Efes is now 16-9, one game ahead of Barcelona, and also holds the head to head advantage. The Turkish team raced into a double-digit lead in the first quarter and protected its advantage the rest of the way as Larkin excelled, scoring a career-high 37 points. Adrien Moerman also starred with a double-double of 22 points and 11 rebounds against his former team. Vasilije Micic scored 14 points and Krunoslav Simon netted 10. Well-beaten Barcelona was led by Ante Tomic with 13 points and 7 rebounds, while Adam Hanga scored 14.
Micic and Moerman both scored twice for Efes in the early stages, but Tomic netted three baskets for Barcelona to keep it close. Simon and Victor Claver exchanged mid-range jumpers before Larkin came off the bench to net two triples for a 19-10 lead. Simon’s three-point play made it a double-digit lead, and another basket from Larkin extended it to 24-12 at the end of the first. Kevin Pangos and Hanga opened the second quarter scoring from close range, but Larkin responded with a long two, a triple and a driving lay-up to make it 35-21. Moerman and Tomic netted from near the basket before Hanga again drove to score, and Pierre Oriola made a long two to make it 42-31 at the break. Tomic opened the second half with couple of close-range strikes, and a three-pointer from Pau Ribas followed by Hanga’s fastbreak lay-up made it 44-40. But Larkin reignited Efes with a reverse lay-up, and Moerman’s runner restored a 10-point margin. Ribas and Moerman traded triples, before Micic and Tibor Pleiss scored from mid-range and a Micic triple gave Efes a 60-46 lead. Pangos and Jaka Blazic pulled Barcelona closer, and Blazic finished the third period with a trio of free throws to make it 64-53. Another triple from Larkin started the final period, and Bryant Dunston added a lay-up before Simon added a triple for 72-55. Moerman’s triple stretched the lead to 20 points midway through the fourth, and Larkin continued to excel with a coast-to-coast lay-up and another triple as the home team cruised home.
Larkin enjoys career night
The main difference-maker was undoubtedly Shane Larkin, who entered the action midway through the first quarter with the game closely balanced at 11-10. He quickly scored two three-pointers and continued in a similar vein all night to finish with 37 points – his personal best and the highest individual total in the EuroLeague since Bobby Brown scored 41 for Montepaschi Siena more than six years ago. He also recorded as PIR of 43, the second-best of all players so far this season.
Efes defense shows up
The game was billed as Efes’s free-scoring offense going up against Barcelona’s stingy defense, but it turned out that the Turkish team’s D played a very significant role in the outcome. Most importantly, Barca was held to zero field goals over the course of more than five minutes at the end of the first and start of the second quarters, and held to just 31 points before the break as Efes too firm control.
Rebounding boosts Efes
As well as Larkin’s scoring, another key was Efes’s dominance on the boards – usually an area of strength for Barcelona. The home side claimed 38 rebounds compared to the visiting team’s 29, including a season-high 13 offensive boards.
Barcelona will be back in Istanbul in Round 26, facing a testing trip to league leading Fenerbahce Beko. Efes also has a tough assignment on the road, travelling to playoffs-chasing Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv.
Friday, March 8, 2019