Credit: imago images/Seskim Photo-Scanpix
Credit imago images/Seskim Photo-Scanpix

Title-holders Anadolu Efes finally got their groove back after the third win in succession and climbed to 5-6 win/loss. This time, Monaco could not stop Efes’ offensive prowess and surrendered with 98-77.

Player of the Game
Rodrigue  Beaubois
Rodrigue Beaubois
Points 17
Accuracy 7-12
Rebounds 3
Assists 7

Head coach Ergin Ataman was delightful in the post-game press conference: “It was a good game tonight for us. We started the game with good tempo, especially offensively. Rodrigue Beaubois brought his scorer game again,” he said. 

“That is a very important week for us. Because we started to play our regular basketball that we played last 3 years. Our supporters started to really join the game. This is a champion team, and we will fight again on this level,” Ataman noted.

Regarding Efes’ offense, Tibor Pleiss’ rising importance should not be overlooked. The German center finished the game with 12 points, but his 10 points in the first 7 minutes were half of Efes’ scoring at that time.

Pless’ presence on the court provided a flourishing spacing setup for Efes’ offenses. His excellent positioning and wise footwork during the pick and rolls helped him start the game with 5/5 FG, drawing assists from Shane Larkin, Rodrigue Beaubois, and Elijah Bryant.

“Pleiss helps us to play with that model which we were accustomed to play with Sertac Sanli, especially in the second half of the season,” Ataman underlined his enhanced role in the offense.

“Pleiss had a bad injury last year, he could not play for 2-3 months. After his recovery, he was very willing to play, but Sertac and Dunston got ahead of him in terms of minutes and role.

Currently, he is in good form, and he is training hard. He proves very useful for our offensive system. That is why we are using him more and more,” Ataman explained. 

2-pointers this season

Points made: 19,8
Accuracy: 55,1%
Place in standings: 9
Record max: 28
Record min: 14
Most made 2FGs: Tibor Pleiss

Despite having the lead for almost the entire game, Efes occasionally struggled to keep Monaco’s comeback attempts at bay.

In the second half, Monaco coach Zvezdan Mitrovic tried to turn the game with some interesting strategies.

Introducing two bigs (Donatas Motiejunas and Ibrahim Fall-Faye) and implementing zone defense at the beginning of the 4th quarter gave some sparkling to the visitors. 

Monaco managed to trim the 18 points half-time deficit to 6 until Shane Larkin intervened with a crucial 3 pointer to break the negative momentum.

“Only we had a problem in the last quarter against their zone defense,” Ataman reminded.

“This season, zones are not being widely used. It was not a confusing type matchup zone, but rather a classical 2-1-2 zone. But my players were kind of surprised observing a static defense instead of a dynamic one.

We found many open shots, but we missed them, and we got ourselves under some stress in that period.

Perhaps, we were too open in that shots, which sometimes negatively affects the shooter’s psychology. These players make so much tougher shots off the screen, but when left wide open, they sometimes hesitate,” Ataman continued.

Apart from reaching their familiar offensive fluidity, Efes’ defense also showed some improvements in the last weeks. 

In October, Efes’ defensive rating was 110.6 (points per 100 possession) and not in the Top10 teams regarding the defense. In November, they recorded 107.1 for the same figure, being one of the Top5 teams in defense. Ataman was satisfied with this aspect as well. 

“We keep control of the game. I believe that all game, we made a perfect defense. We successfully controlled rebounds, and we played our running game.

“As a novelty in our defensive system, we introduced switching especially when Petrusev is playing at center.  He also did well in the pick and rolls and played an effective game in the offense,” Ataman explained.

“We can improve this new scheme and use it more extensively with more mobile and dynamic 4-5 positions,” he added. 

Filip Petrusev deserved coach Ataman’s credit with a clean and effective game with 10 points, 4/5 from the field, and zero turnovers. 

Currently, he has 7.6 points per game with 63% two-pointer efficiency. The Serbian big is slowly finding his place in a championship team. 

“Everyone expects you to win in a champion team,” Petrusev remarked. “When it is not happening, that is not good.” 

“I never played in EuroLeague before in this biggest level competition of Europe. I should learn and get better game by game. I just do what the coach asks me to do,” the Serbian forward added.

In this double game week that is full of positives for Efes, Vasilje Micic’s shooting slump (1/14 beyond the arc) remained a weak concern.

After Olympiacos’ game, where he scored 19 points and 5 assists (with 1/10 three-point shooting), Micic played with 6 points and 4 assists, drawing only 3 fouls against Monaco.

Those numbers are only mediocre considering the quality of reigning Euroleague MVP, but Ergin Ataman does not have any concerns regarding Micic’s case. 

“He also had some similar period at the beginning of last season for 5-6 games,” Ataman reminded. 

“But his quality is certainly beyond dispute. He does not have any serious injuries. But he is having some issues regarding the physiological aspect, with some muscle pain. Perhaps, that issue lowered his overall strength to miss those shots,” Ataman added.

Despite consecutive wins, Efes is still out of playoff spots in the Euroleague (currently 10th), and their next game is against Fenerbahce in Ulker Sports Arena, the same place where Fenerbahce won 90-68 against Efes, a month ago in the domestic scene.  

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Stambulo Anadolu Efes
Monako Basket
Field goals

Best players

Rodrigue  Beaubois
17 PTS
7/12 FG
0/0 FT
Donatas  Motiejūnas
21 PTS
9/10 FG
0/1 FT
Adrien  Moerman
AS Monaco
Few players
Rodrigue  Beaubois
7 As
0 TO
33 MIN
Mike  James
4 As
1 TO
18 MIN
Rodrigue  Beaubois
24 EFF
67% 2P%
50% 3P%
Donatas  Motiejūnas
22 EFF
86% 2P%
100% 3P%