Credit: Vangelis Stolis
Credit Vangelis Stolis

Anadolu Efes Istanbul crushed Ratiopharm Ulm 88-69 (24-25, 18-17, 26-11, 20-16) in the first game of the third "Pavlos Giannakopoulos Tournament" held at the OAKA Arena in Athens. On Sunday night, the EuroLeague champs will face the winner of the Panathinaikos OPAP Athens - Partizan NIS Belgrade duel, starting at 19:00 CEST. 

Ergin Ataman didn’t have four key players at his disposal, since Shane Larkin, Chris Singleton, Tibor Pleiss, and Krunoslav Simon were not available for this game. On the other side, Jaka Lakovic didn’t dress Brazilian big Cristiano Felicio, who has been dealing with an injury issue over the last few days.

The second-half defense was key to the outcome, as Efes allowed their opponents to score only 27 points over that span. Rodrigue Beaubois with 22 points and Filip Petrusev with 17 led the champs on offense, while the German side managed to put on a competitive show for more than 20 minutes but went out of gas when Efes turned on their engines for good in the third quarter. 

Efes took advantage of their size in the paint with Petrusev going strong on the offensive glass. However, it was Ulm that got a slight edge at the beginning (7-10), with Christon holding down Micic to an absolute zero in the first quarter. A long-range jumper by Gunther made it 25-24 for Ulm at the buzzer and 8 points by Klepeisz in less than 5 minutes allowed the German team to stay ahead.

When Micic re-entered the court, things changed for Anadolu Efes. Two three-pointers from the Serbian guard tied the game at 32 apiece midway through the second period. From that point on, Ataman’s men, despite their lapses, gained momentum which led them to an 11-0 overall run (40-32). It took almost five minutes for the Germans to find the way to Efes’s basket, but when Christon scored, Klepeisz and Blossomgame followed suit with three-point plays. In just one minute, the game was tied again (40-40), almost out of nowhere.

Right after the half-time break, Efes went on a 12-3 partial score, mainly thanks to three three-point daggers by Rodrigue Beaubois. The Turkish side got a double-digit margin for the first time (62-51) and finished the third quarter on a total partial score of 26-11, with Balbay being the unsung hero. The team's captain went scoreless but made sure that Christon would do no better.

At the same time, Ataman saw Bugrahan Tuncer produce 7 points and had the chance to allocate playing time to every player on the 12-man squad. The margin went as far as 23 (86-63), with Efes reaching a comfortable win against the EuroCup contenders.

Anadolu Efes: Beaubois 22 (7/10 FG, 5/7 3FG), Petrusev 17, Tuncer 12, Micic 12 (6 AST, 3 TO), Anderson 9. 

Ratiopharm Ulm: Blossomgame 11, Klepeisz 11, Zugic 9, Christon 8, Gunther 7.


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