Credit: Aykut Akici/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images
Credit Aykut Akici/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

A very similar ending took place in the Sinan Erdem Arena in Game 3 of the playoffs series between Anadolu Efes and AX Armani Exchange Milan. The type that we witnessed throughout the years in the late game situations when Efes were making the crucial plays.

It was Shane Larkin who decided the fate of both teams, with the clutch shots that brought a key win for Efes for the lead in the series.

He did not have the greatest game of the season, though. He could not find any field goals until 4:08 left in the 3rd quarter when he managed to hit a 3-pointer. 

The switch and double teams were working against him all too well. 

"The fans kept Shane Larkin in the game. Through three quarters, he was not shooting well, he was making turnovers. But he is a champion and he likes this atmosphere. In the last quarter, he took the responsibility, he resolved our problems in the offense," coach Ergin Ataman said after the game.

That first made shot finally gave him the initial spark, which was more than enough for Larkin to find his groove. All he needed was a big moment to shine, yet again.

"The double teams did not make me anxious or anything like that," said Shane Larkin.

"But I would be anxious if I did not believe in my teammates."

"All these guys, we made great plays through all these 4 years, we know each other, I trust them completely. We know how to get out of tough situations together. Through three quarters, I watched my teammates keep us in the game."

"4th quarter is winning time, it is the time for big plays. I thought it was my turn to lead the team. I needed to take the stress out of them and took the pressure on myself,” he added.

Larkin eventually finished the night with 16 points and 5 assists, including that clutch three-pointer that effectively diminished Milan’s already dimming hopes. 

Ergin Ataman revealed that after their latest timeout, he chose to trust his scorer’s gut feelings: 

"It seems not easy as it seems from outside; we are actively trying to find the best option in the last minutes, seeking to draw the plays accordingly,” Ataman explained. 

"Then Larkin said: 'I'm very hot right now, let me take the shots.' In the last timeout, we opted to give the ball to him. It is not a decision based on pure gut feelings, but we are also considering the feelings of the players as well."

The usual suspects rose to the occasion, once again for Efes. Although Vasilje Micic did not have a particularly good game despite starting with 11 points in the first quarter, it is all good for them as long as Anadolu Efes keeps winning.

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