Remember Ergin Ataman's fists in January? Well, guess who had the last laugh again.

Points this season

Points made: 81,0
Accuracy: 47,8%
Place in standings: 3
Record max: 109
Record min: 58
Best scorer: Vasilije Micic

Ataman and Anadolu Efes Istanbul are back-to-back EuroLeague champions, and it's time we appreciate what they have done in the last years by analyzing their fantastic Final Four performance.

Ataman's defensive tactics worked much better than in the first part of the season, the excellence of arguably the best EuroLeague duo ever and the X-Factor that changed their whole season.


The semifinal started with Efes having problems with Moustapha Fall. Olympiacos ran their pick&roll plays, not looking directly to score from them but searching to give Fall a possibility to catch the ball deep because of how Pleiss was defending the 2-man action.

After winning the strength battle the first time, Efes came to double later.

After an early 7-point lead from Olympiacos, Efes had to make their first mini-run to stay close. And whenever they needed to respond, they got some big 3-pointers coming.

That was the difference in the game, with the Greeks scoring 21 points from outside while Efes had 42. On switches, Bartzokas was copying Milano's defense in the quarterfinal, with Vezenkov making Micic go left and Walkup in the gap from one pass away.

But every little mistake when you play against the greats like Micic and Larkin can get punished super quickly. The superb duo got going and put Efes in the front right before halftime.

In the third quarter, it was Anadolu that landed the first punch. Olympiacos decided to mix it up a bit on their defense - Icing the side pick&rolls. However, it didn't work out as expected.

When talking about Efes, we often get overwhelmed by their offense. In the second half of this season, they also managed to show solid defensive plays. Especially Larkin, whose efforts in following through the screens need a separate mention.

The way Efes defend pick&rolls, guards need to be as quick as possible to get back to their man. Despite carrying the team offensively, the American guard did a fantastic job following Dorsey and others and disturbing them from behind.

Down 10, Olympiacos turned up their defense and got back into the game thanks to some tough shots from Dorsey. But with all of the momentum their way and needing only a single bucket to break the game, the ball became extremely heavy.

You could just feel a little bit of anxiety in the arena and in their play from the emotions they showed after missing some open shots. They knew it was the moment to run away but instead, we got an even more dramatic finish.

With the game tied at 74 and the last shot belonging to Efes, Ergin Ataman calls a "Fist 4" play for Micic to play it with 6 seconds left. Fist simply means pick&roll, and 4 refers to the position of the guy setting the screen.

This is why we saw Moermann turning to Micic and asking if he should come when there are 8 seconds left, so he has 2 extra seconds to attack the switch. Ataman called "Fist 4" because this way Micic got the matchup they hunted all game long - an Isolation against Vezenkov.

Oly tried to Ice it at first, but Micic broke it and then attacked left, only to step back a second later. Vezenkov could not contest the shot better, but unfortunately for Olympiacos, Micic is that great as a player.


The championship game versus Real Madrid had an identical first quarter, with Madrid's big man Walter Tavares taking advantage of his enormous size. The main damage came from 6 offensive rebounds in only 9 minutes.

They came not only in half-court possessions but also in fast breaks, with Madrid looking to push early and having success forcing undesirable switches, leaving Bryant against the 2.20-meter Tavares in the paint.

The giant was replaced by Vincent Poirier, and with him, Real opted to switch-all ball screens. This became a mismatch targeting operation for Efes, and the plan was successful throughout the game, as they got 3 baskets in a highly intense defensive match that kept them close.

On defense, Anadolu remained loyal to Ataman's defensive scheme all game long. It was the same one that got them through the quarterfinals against Armani Exchange and Olympiacos in the semis.

They risked a lot, and we have to admit that Real missed at least 10 open threes in the final, but the champs cannot be judged.

Credit BasketNews/Begum Unal

Guards have to go over, and the big has to stop the ball handler initially and then retreat as the opposing big rolls, but the most important one here is 3rd help defender. His responsibility is to tag the roller in case Pleiss or Dunston is higher with the guard. This often left someone on the 3-point line open, but the risk paid off.

Pablo Laso kept pushing this situation all 40 minutes, but Yabusele went 0 for 6, Causeur and Abalde 0 for 5. Madrid never got hot and finished 6 for 33 from the 3 point-line.

In such a low-scoring final, every possession was crucial, and there were important sequences where Efes made huge turnarounds with Tibor Pleiss leading the way.

Pleiss was the ultimate X-Factor in this year's Anadolu success. Late in the final, when Efes were attacking switches, he was fronted by Rudy. But on every penetration, Madrid was doing peel-back switches, with the guard re-taking Micic inside the paint.

This is where the German's height came in handy. Left for a second alone, he was able to grab the offensive rebound first, and then Micic was able simply to throw the ball up top when Real were re-switching again.

Up 1 with 75 seconds left to play, Efes got another offensive rebound and got a huge bucket on the offensive glass again by Tibor Pleiss.

Who could have thought that Sergio Llull's basket with 44 seconds to go would be the last shot Madrid would take in this game? Real fouled twice since they had two fouls to give before the bonus and when Efes with 17 seconds remaining on the game clock and 14 seconds left on the shot clock.

With no live-ball timeouts in Europe, even if you get a clean defensive rebound, this would have left at best a halfcourt shot for the title. Pablo Laso made an obvious mistake, which allowed Anadolu Efes to start their second party in two years.

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