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

Let's admit it, many from the EuroLeague community probably never thought that LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne without Ellie Okobo could win the game against Anadolu Efes

Player of the Game
Shane  Larkin
EFF
23
Shane Larkin
Points 19
Accuracy 7-14
Rebounds 1
Assists 8

Yes, they had the lead. Yes, their three-guard weave offensive dynamic did not look bad at times.

Yes, they fought until the last minute and fell one Kahudi 3-pointer short of trimming the difference to 2 points. Yes, Marcos Knight recorded the first double-double of his EuroLeague career (21 points and 12 rebounds), just in the week where he earned a contract extension

Yet ASVEL were not-so-old ASVEL. Decimated by injuries, clumsy and sometimes unlucky in the crucial moments, with many turnovers when they did not have the luxury. 

Once again, Efes did the trick behind Shane Larkin's decisive efforts. The Moscow conqueror led the team by 19 points, 8 assists, and 4 steals. 

"When Shane Larkin is healthy, he always shows what he is capable of," Ergin Ataman said after the game. "He kept showing it throughout the last three years. Not only against CSKA but also Fenerbahce game we won away in the Ulker Sports Arena."

"Regarding the game, we were very willing tonight, which pleased me. The offense is ungrateful while the defense gives you wins. Some nights you send 19 threes while the others, you miss open shots and make many turnovers. There is no guarantee that you will provide with high accuracy," Ataman added.

"Tonight, we missed a lot aside from Shane Larkin and Krunoslav Simon. Despite all, our defense was very good in the 2nd half. Each and every player gave a good effort say, Larkin, Bryant Dunston, or Chris Singleton. 

That defensive effort was the thing that made me pleased the most because it was so crucial to lead us to a win," Efes head coach continued.

Let's also keep in mind that it is never easy to win back-to-back games regardless of the opponent. That high-intensity blockbuster CSKA game with a nail-biter OT ending wore down Efes a little bit, but ASVEL's persistency just fell short. 

"ASVEL were pretty good tonight, they never surrendered. Especially Marcos Knight had a big night," Ataman praised the opponent. 

Of course, we have problems with fatigue, players could not provide much and hence, our overall effort gets a little bit down. We cannot open the gap up to 30 points, as we were doing frequently last season," he admitted. 

Efes is now in 8th place in the Euroleague standings with 12 wins in the bag. But they are among the 3 other teams (Olympiacos, Monaco, Bayern) who have the same number of wins which signifies a very tight playoffs race. 

"This was an important week because they won their games as well. We have 11 games left and we have a favorable schedule," Ataman gave his assessment on the schedule. 

"Olympiacos game next week is going to be tough but they are the only team above us in the standings regarding the games remaining. By making most of this favorable situation, we would like to have the best placing possible for the playoffs," he added. 

Ataman also reflected on his experience regarding the CSKA game where he could not be on the bench because of his illness.

"I sometimes had to watch my teams from the stands but it was the first time I watched my team on TV. I watched it with my son, Sarp and it was like a real fan atmosphere in a way. I was really relaxed during the game.

I believed in our staff, we always make our preparations together. All in all, players won the game," Ataman said.

"Maybe there was a silver lining about my ejections from double technicals in those two games. Our staff was much more experienced than the CSKA side," he said jokingly. Yakup (Sekizkok) did a good job and he also practiced these clutch cases as a head coach."

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Stambulo Anadolu Efes
Vilerbano ASVEL
49%
28/57
Field goals
46%
30/65
25
Rebounds
39
20
Assists
12
11
Steals
9
59%
17/29
2-pointers
53%
24/45
16
Fouls
16

Best players

Shane  Larkin
19 PTS
7/14 FG
1/2 FT
Marcos  Knight
21 PTS
9/14 FG
2/3 FT
Tibor  Pleiss
6 REB
5 DREB
1 OREB
Marcos  Knight
12 REB
11 DREB
1 OREB
Shane  Larkin
8 As
4 TO
36 MIN
Chris  Jones
6 As
4 TO
28 MIN
Shane  Larkin
23 EFF
43% 2P%
57% 3P%
Marcos  Knight
30 EFF
73% 2P%
33% 3P%