Efes holds off Zenit for sixth win
Anadolu Efes Istanbul never trailed and led by as many as 25 points before needing to hold late for a 90-88 win over visiting Zenit St Petersburg on Thursday night at Sinan Erdem Dome. Efes improved to 6-2, while Zenit dropped to 2-6 in its premier Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season. Efes took the lead from the start and, led by the usual suspects Vasilije Micic and Shane Larkin as well as center Sertac Sanli, built a big lead that reached 25 points midway through the third quarter. But Zenit's Austin Hollins caught fire from long range and, with help from Gustavo Ayon and Anton Pushkov, the visitors chipped away at the deficit. Zenit scored 38 points in the fourth quarter, but did not manage to complete the comeback. Micic scored 24 points on a perfect shooting night, Larkin had 22 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds, while big men Sanli and Tibor Pleiss scored 13 points apiece in victory. Hollins scored 26 points on 7-for-11 three-point shooting for Zenit, Ayon netted 21 points, Pushkov had 12 and Renfroe dished 10 assists in the losing effort.
Efes took control from the get-go with Pleiss scoring twice from close range and Chris Singleton and Micic connecting from long range to open a 10-2 lead. Zenit kept in touch by scoring 9 second-chance points, including a three-pointer from Hollins. But Micic had his second triple and also hit a long baseline jumper at the buzzer to make it 21-14 after 10 minutes. Larkin nailed a pair of threes early in the second to open a 29-19 advantage before 6 points from Sanli and another triple from Larkin fueled a 9-2 run to make it 38-23. Zenit kept crashing the offensive boards, which resulted in a triple from Dmitry Khvostov and a jumper from Puhskov that cut the margin to 42-30 at halftime. Hollins knocked down a triple after the break, but Efes dominated after that. Larkin had a triple, Micic served Pleiss for a big dunk, and Singleton had a three-point play. Micic's three-pointer put 61-37 on the scoreboard before Hollins snapped a 15-2 run with a corner three-pointer of his own. A couple more close-range baskets from Larkin extended the margin to 25 points, 67-52, before Zenit started melting away the deficit. Hollins had 6 points late in the third quarter, including a last-second triple, and his transition three-pointer early in the fourth made it 71-55. Pushkov and Ayon combined to score the next 12 points for Zenit to get within 76-67 with 6 minutes to go. Micic had 7 points on one end and Ayon 6 more on the other before the sixth triple by Hollins helped get Zenit within 83-78. The seventh triple from Hollins cut the difference to 85-83 with 23 seconds left, but Efes quickly went the other way and Pleiss had a dunk-plus-foul that sealed the outcome.
Sanli's big first half
In the absence of Bryant Dunston, seldom used Efes center Sertac Sanli stepped up in a major way, especially in the second quarter. The veteran big man had played only 69 seconds in one appearance so far this season and had played more than 10 minutes only twice before in his career. But in this game, Sanli entered with 1:46 left in the first quarter and did not leave the floor the rest of the first half. Before halftime, he had 10 points, 2 rebounds and 1 block in 11:46 minutes played - all career-highs.
Taking control of the glass
Zenit pulled down 11 offensive rebounds in the first half and scored 16 second-chance points off of them. It was the main reason the visitors were hanging to a 42-30 halftime deficit, but Efes allowed just 1 offensive rebound in the second half, including zero offensive boards in the third quarter when it opened up its big lead.
Vasilije Micic led Efes with 24 points without missing a shot. He shot 4 for 4 on two-pointers, hit 3 for 3 from three-point land and made all 7 of his free throws.
Hollins keeps sinking threes
Austin Hollins hit 7 triples on 18 attempts in the first six rounds and had shot 15 for 25 from long range in the last two games. He is the first player to knock down 7 three-pointers in a game this season.
Next week in Round 9 both teams will be on the road on Tuesday. Efes will visit LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne, while Zenit travels to play Valencia Basket.
Thursday, November 14, 2019