Real Madrid routed Efes Pilsen 60-77
Real Madrid stormed past Efes Pilsen 60-77 on Thursday night at Sinan Erdem Arena in Istanbul to become the first team in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague this season to reach the Quarterfinal Playoffs. Sergio Llull scored 17 and dished 5 assists for the Whites, who improved to 4-0 in Top 16 Group G. Madrid visits Partizan mt:s next week knowing that a win will secure head coach Ettore Messina’s men homecourt advantage in the playoffs. Meanwhile Efes droped to 2-2 and is now tied with Montepaschi Siena for second place in the group. Those two meet next week in Italy in a clash with major playoff implications. After a close first quarter, Madrid pulled away in the second with a Llull’s off-balance tripe at the halftime buzzer capping a 2-11 charge to make it 24-35. The Madrid lead hit 20 in the third quarter as the visitors became the first team to beat Efes at the Sinan Erdem Arena. Ante Tomic added 14 points and Felipe Reyes scored 10 for the victors. With Efes’s leading scorer Igor Rakocevic out with a back-injury, Kerem Tunceri paced his team with 14 points and Bootsy Thornton added 10 points and 7 rebounds.
Efes won the opening tip and after working the ball around, Kerem Gonlum shot over Reyes for the game’s first points. Reyes later tallied Madrid’s first points, but was soon on the bench with 2 fouls. Madrid’s young guns pushed the Whites ahead. Llull fearlessly penetrated for a basket, Tomic scored over Nikola Vujcic and then stripped him at the other end, which led to a Carlos Suarez triple and a 2-9 Madrid lead. Flip Murray, who had a few good-looking jumpers bounce out early, fed Vujcic for an alley-oop layin that ended a five-minute scoring drought for the hosts. An Andrew Wisniewski three-pointer closed the gap to 7-11 and raised the din in the arena. Efes used a full-court press and Thornton managed to steal the ball from Clay Tucker and take it in for a slam. Nikola Mirotic’s first touch was an offensive rebound to keep Madrid ahead, but Gonlum narrowed the gap to 12-13 after 10 minutes.
Mirza Begic dropped in a hook shot from the low post and then Sergio Rodriguez pulled up for a jumper to put the visitors up 5. Miroslav Radulica brought the fans to their feet with a tough basket-plus-foul only to see Begic match him at the other end. Tucker got on the board with a jumper to make it 16-22. Tomic lifted the Madrid advantage to 8, but on the next play Vujcic scooped up a rebound, scored with a hook and drew a foul to keep Efes in the picture. Vujcic continued his strong play with 2 steals on the defensive end, while Gonlum and Murray carried the hosts within 22-24. Madrid responded quickly though Tomic and Prigioni to go up by 6. Llull played a pretty pick-and-roll with Tomic for the latter’s 10th point. Efes head coach Velimir Perasovic tried twin point guards with Wisniewski and Tunceri to generate more offense. Tunceri got to the line for his first 2 points, but Tomic scored 2 from the line as well and Llull silenced the crowd with an off-balance, buzzer-beating three to give Madrid its biggest lead yet, 24-35 at halftime.
Despite Bootsy’s free throw representing the first point of the second half, Madrid quickly resumed the control it had at the end of the first. Suarez banked in a shot and Prigioni connected from downtown to make it 25-40. Some crisp passing and nice spin move got Thornton a basket inside, but a Llull three-pointer only added to the Madrid lead. A timeout out did not cool Llull down and he sank a third three to make it a 19-point lead. Thornton gave the fans a reason to smile with a hard-fought basket-plus-foul, but he missed the resulting free throw. Tunceri added a pretty layup, but D’Or Fischer’s first points of the game put Madrid ahead 32-52. A few free throws from both teams saw the scoreboard flash 37-56 after three quarters.
Boki Nachbar got in the books with a triple and Lawrence Roberts added a basket-plus-foul as Efes tried to string together a late run. But before the lead got smaller than 16, Llull drained a triple to reassert the Madrid dominance. Sinan Guler provided a highlight with a steal and a pretty finger-roll layup. Efes tried a pressing defense to ignite something, but nothing bothered the Whites, who calmly played out the clock knowing that they could celebrate becoming this season’s first quarterfinalist as soon as the buzzer sounded.
Thursday, February 17, 2011