Credit: IMAGO/Seskim Photo - Scanpix
Credit IMAGO/Seskim Photo - Scanpix

The defending EuroLeague champions Anadolu Efes Istanbul took another step to reach the Final Four in Belgrade by surviving the late surge of AX Armani Exchange Milan in the 3rd game of the playoff series in Istanbul.

Player of the Game
Shane  Larkin
EFF
24
Shane Larkin
Points 16
Accuracy 5-9
Rebounds 4
Assists 5

Despite Efes' strong start to the game and repeated attempts to seal the game early by climbing to double-digit differentials, the Italian team showed great resilience to come back each time.

Although not having Nicolo Melli and Malcolm Delaney on the roster, Messina's men succumbed to only Shane Larkin’s clutch game late in the 4th quarter. 

After the game, Ergin Ataman was not entirely happy with his club's overall game performance but felt quite satisfied with the results and some particular aspects. 

"Once again, we must accept that Milan managed to control the game while we struggled to find our regular offensive level tonight," the Turkish coach told after the game. "Especially in the second half, we gave them so many offensive rebounds, and they scored 15 points out of these second chances."

"I told you that our fans will bring 3 times better atmosphere compared to Milan and indeed, they did. Bolstered by their support, we made a great defense. Our fans helped us with keeping the motivation and the level of aggression high," he added.

Asked whether Ettore Messina’s earlier comments about the series being over made an impact on his team, Ataman revealed his firm belief that it was far from over.

"I think Messina gave that statement in a rather emotional moment," Ataman commented.

"He is a big coach who has a lot of experience and never surrenders. I think the injuries of Malcolm Delaney and Sergio Rodriguez during the game emotionally brought him down," the coach explained.

"We didn’t even think they would be conceding this series to us so easily whatsoever," Ataman continued. "They have Messina and they have a lot of good players with huge experience."

"The game in Milan was clinched by Shavon Shields’ big effort and they had him today. That was nearly equivalent to what Larkin did today," the fiery coach told the media. "We were adamant that they are going to play against us rather determined, in a tough manner here."

Ataman also pointed out their own injury concerns regarding Krunoslav Simon and Rodrigue Beaubois and hinted that they are not likely to play in the 4th game.

"They had their injuries but we are also not entirely healthy. All of a sudden, we became almost even in that respect," he concluded.

In order to protect home-court advantage, Anadolu Efes still need one win over Milan in the series. The next game is scheduled at 19:30 CET on Thursday at Sinan Erdem Dome.

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Anadolu Efes Istanbul
AX Armani Exchange Milan
56%
29/52
Field goals
40%
24/60
24
Rebounds
33
14
Assists
14
8
Steals
11
100%
10/10
Free throws
100%
9/9
13
Turnovers
14

Best players

Vasilije  Micic
20 PTS
9/16 FG
0/0 FT
Devon  Hall
16 PTS
5/9 FG
3/3 FT
Anadolu Efes Istanbul
Few players
5 REB
Shavon  Shields
6 REB
6 DREB
0 OREB
Anadolu Efes Istanbul
Few players
5 As
Devon  Hall
5 As
2 TO
33 MIN
Shane  Larkin
24 EFF
50% 2P%
57% 3P%
Devon  Hall
22 EFF
67% 2P%
50% 3P%