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

The reigning Turkish Airlines EuroLeague champions Anadolu Efes Istanbul found their way to their third consecutive Final Four by defeating AX Armani Exchange Milan75-70 (19-11, 23-32, 20-15, 13-12), and finishing the series 3-1 at sold-out Sinan Erdem Dome.

Player of the Game
Tibor  Pleiss
EFF
37
Tibor Pleiss
Points 25
Accuracy 8-9
Rebounds 6
Assists 0

After a close first half (42-43), Anadolu Efes opened up the third quarter with a 14-5 push (56-48). Tibor Pleiss and Vasilije Micic were pouring one triple after another. Eventually, Efes' lead marked double-digits (62-52) but the success was temporary.

Sergio Rodriguez, Shavon Shields, and Gigi Datome converted four shots from deep, while Milan organized a 12-0 run. They had plus 2 (64-62) at the start of the fourth quarter. Giampaolo Ricci added another duo, extending the spurt to 14-0 (66-62).

Both clubs traded baskets, while Tibor Pleiss and Vasilije Micic tied the game at 68 with 3 minutes to go. Chris Singleton put his team in front (70-68) with 1:57 left. Shields got an offensive foul, while Singleton was fouled on the other end. He connected one shot from the line and three points (71-68) differed the teams.

Efes defended their basket, but Shane Larkin missed as well. Fortunately for Efes, Luigi Datome and Shavon Shields' deep shots were off the mark. Shane Larkin sealed the deal for the Turks with two successful free throws (73-68), as 11 seconds were left on the clock.

Tibor Pleiss was outstanding for Efes, accumulating 25 points (5/6 2PT, 3/3 3PT, 6/6 FT), 6 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks, and 37 PIR.

Vasilije Micic aided the big man with 20 points (5/6 2PT, 2/7 3PT, 4/5 FT), 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 2 turnovers, and 25 PIR.

"Big congratulations to my dear friend, best friend, Ettore Messina and his team. It was a great series. We had more luck, but they also played incredibly. It's not easy to play in this atmosphere. It's a great atmosphere, it's one of the best atmospheres in the world.

Free throws this season

73%
10,7
Points made: 10,7
Accuracy: 73,4%
Place in standings: 15
Record max: 24
Record min: 1
Most made FTs: Shavon Shields

I'm so happy for my team, for my players because this team deserves to be back in the Final Four. Two more games for the title! We will go back-to-back. Now everyone will see that we will be in the Final Four and we will win again," Ergin Ataman said post-game.

Luigi Datome shone on the losing side, playing a season-best game. The Italian veteran finished the duel with 21 points (6/8 2PT, 3/10 3PT), 1 rebound, 1 steal, 1 turnover, and 10 PIR.

"I want to congratulate coach Ataman and his team for making the Final Four. I congratulate their crowd that created a fantastic atmosphere for this game. And also congratulate my team for a great EuroLeague season that saw us competing with the reigning champions even without a lot of players like Delaney, Melli, Mitoglou, who for us were key players," spoke Ettore Messina.

Anadolu Efes: Tibor Pleiss 25 (6 REB), Vasilije Micic 20 (5 REB, 4 AST), Shane Larkin 8 (5 REB, 7 AST).

Armani Exchange: Luigi Datome 21, Kyle Hines 10 (12 REB, 21 PIR), Devon Hall 9 (4 REB).

Highlights

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Anadolu Efes Istanbul
AX Armani Exchange Milan
49%
23/47
Field goals
42%
28/66
26
Rebounds
35
13
Assists
20
6
Steals
6
2
Blocks
1
16
Fouls
25

Best players

Tibor  Pleiss
25 PTS
8/9 FG
6/6 FT
Luigi  Datome
21 PTS
9/18 FG
0/0 FT
Tibor  Pleiss
6 REB
5 DREB
1 OREB
Kyle  Hines
12 REB
4 DREB
8 OREB
Shane  Larkin
7 As
2 TO
37 MIN
Sergio  Rodriguez
7 As
1 TO
22 MIN
Tibor  Pleiss
37 EFF
83% 2P%
100% 3P%
Kyle  Hines
21 EFF
83% 2P%
- 3P%