Credit: Panagiotis Moschandreou/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images
Credit Panagiotis Moschandreou/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

Elijah Bryant is still a newcomer in Anadolu Efes's squad, but he's already gotten a good taste of his new team.

Player of the Game
Daryl  Macon
EFF
38
Daryl Macon
Points 34
Accuracy 11-14
Rebounds 4
Assists 3

The 26-year-old guard-forward debuted with the reigning EuroLeague champs in their only win so far in the competition against UNICS Kazan.

Bryant was one of the very few who managed to put on a good show (15 points on 6/12 FG in 29 minutes) in what has probably been their worst game of the season, a 69-95 blowout to hosts Panathinaikos in Athens.

With a 1-5 record after six rounds, Anadolu Efes mark the worst start for the champions in modern EuroLeague history (since 2000-2001).

After the game at OAKA, BasketNews caught up with Elijah Bryant to briefly discuss the main reasons behind Efes's poor performances, as well as his own short-lived NBA experience, which nevertheless garnered him a championship ring with the Milwaukee Bucks.

For starters, the former Hapoel Eilat and Maccabi Tel Aviv player tried to explain what transpired at the OAKA arena on Wednesday night.

"It's basketball. Panathinaikos had a good day. I think they played really well, credit to them. We'll figure what we have to fix and it's a quick turnaround here."

The main question is what's wrong with this version of Anadolu Efes, which hasn't been performing up to par.

Bryant plainly replied: "It's life. You got good and bad days. There's nothing specifically wrong. We started off slow, but it's basketball.

I think we'll get better on defense. We got to figure it out. It's a little bit of adversity. We are trying to mesh. There's a lot of injuries, but that's not an excuse. As we continue to get guys back and focus more on defense, we will figure things out."

Daryl Macon hurt Efes, hitting 9 three-point daggers and going for 34 points and 38 Performance Index Rating Points. Bryant could not but acknowledge that the EuroLeague rookie did most of the damage against his team. "He got hot. He hit shots. Credit to him, but we have to adjust and go from there."

Efes's next opponent is winless (0-6) Zalgiris Kaunas in Istanbul. "Nothing is guaranteed in life. We will go out there and fight, play hard and focus on the result."

The 26-year-old believes that Ergin Ataman and Giannis Sfairopoulos, his current and former coach respectively, are both great managers.

"I'm still trying to learn coach Ataman as he's trying to learn me," he adds.

Bryant had a short, albeit very substantial presence in the NBA. He scored 16 points in his first and only regular-season game with future champs, Milwaukee Bucks, against the Chicago Bulls on May 16, and went on to participate in another 11 playoff contests with them.

A month ago, he was waived by the Bucks, who re-signed him three days later before letting him go - for good.

"It was short, but I was able to get a championship, gain a lot of knowledge from the older guys, veterans like Giannis, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday. I was able to learn a lot in the short stint I was there. Hopefully, I can put it to use.

It definitely opened my eyes to see that I can play at that level. When it's my time, I'll be there. But I'm focusing on being here right now," the Georgia-born athlete points out.

For him, being back in Europe after a very refreshing break feels good.

"I was gone only for a few months. But I feel comfortable in Europe. I'm still trying to understand the system and my role, bring energy and effort and have a good attitude every night", he says.

Bryant signed a two-year contract with Anadolu Efes. It's a choice that might suggest that he will be staying in Europe long-term. However, he prefers to keep all options open.

"We'll see how it goes. Honestly, I'm just focusing on tomorrow, not too far ahead or behind," Bryant concluded.

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Panathinaikos Athens
Anadolu Efes Istanbul
56%
35/63
Field goals
33%
22/67
42
Rebounds
34
20
Assists
14
4
Steals
5
67%
20/30
2-pointers
39%
16/41
45%
15/33
3-pointers
23%
6/26

Best players

Daryl  Macon
34 PTS
11/14 FG
3/3 FT
Rodrigue  Beaubois
16 PTS
6/12 FG
2/3 FT
Georgios  Papagiannis
10 REB
8 DREB
2 OREB
Adrien  Moerman
7 REB
5 DREB
2 OREB
Kendrick  Perry
6 As
1 TO
23 MIN
Krunoslav  Simon
9 As
1 TO
16 MIN
Daryl  Macon
38 EFF
100% 2P%
75% 3P%
Rodrigue  Beaubois
12 EFF
50% 2P%
50% 3P%