Efes overwhelmed Real Madrid by a 27-point difference (90-63) in the first round of the best-of-five Euroleague quarter-finals. Order, strength and aim lasted 20 minutes for Laso’s team, which faded after the break and ended up being shaken by the Turkish arsenal. In the final stretch came a knee injury to Micic, the only setback for a tough and firm Efes against an ailing and overwhelmed rival. Madrid’s collapse in the second half resulted in a 46-23 run. From 7 of 16 in triples by whites in the first half to hold the pulse, to 3 of 17 in the dire last two quarters. Beaubois and Larkin, on the outside, and Moerman and Sanli, on the inside, ramshackle a Madrid that has been patched up at the start, but later torn apart. A bulky difference that, for accounting purposes, is 1-0 in the series.
A KO loss for the Whites in the first round after a contrasting afternoon in Istanbul. From the mirage to its harsh reality. Vukcevic was Laso’s surprise in his starting five. The coach was encouraged to give the youth squad the alternative, with 99 minutes of experience in the ACB and an outstanding match at the Palau against Barça as the first milestone in his curriculum of 10 elite matches. And, with Vukcevic as a surprise factor and a very fine Laprovittola (six points, two rebounds and three assists in his first six minutes), Madrid appeared lustrous in Istanbul. From 0-8 to 7-14 of minute 5. But Ataman reviewed the lesson with his team and the pair formed by Simon and Sanli straightened Efes before the close of the first quarter (20-18, m. 10). By then, the Whites were dominating the rebound but their momentum was dampened by six turnovers. Meanwhile, the Turkish team redoubled its bet with Beaubois’s points and Larkin’s appearance.
Revolutions were unleashed on the track and the coaches began to squeeze their slates. Causeur was in charge of trying to hold Larkin (for Taylor’s fouls) and Garuba put his size, mobility and determination in the marking on Micic. Efes (27-20, m. 12) stretched the rope, but Madrid took hold with the increasing contribution of Rudy and Thompkins (36-35, m. 17). Laprovittola responded to a triple by Larkin with another (7 of 13 for whites at that moment; 7 of 16 at halftime). And, between systoles and diastoles it was Beaubois (14 points in 13 minutes) who made a narrow difference before the trip to the locker room (44-40, m. 20). Tavares arrived at intermission with six points, six rebounds and a single foul on his record, margin to stretch a battle that, in the regular league duel played by both teams less than a month ago, was broken after leaving due to injury to the Cape Verdean at 20 minutes. With a different plot twist, but the outcome was repeated.
Madrid returned to the track with their foot changed and Efes penalized them with two triples to try another demarraje, the final one (50-40, m. 21). The setback became the beginning of a quagmire from which the visitors could not escape. Laso’s men were obfuscated in attack, who missed up to eight triples in a row and were only able to score a basket from Tavares and a free kick from Carroll in the first seven minutes of the restart. The consequences of the white blackout were devastating for their interests (58-43, m. 27). Tavares, increasingly limping as the minutes passed, became the only way out of the Madrid funnel. Thompkins barely saw a hoop from there to the end. The Turkish partial grew until 18-5 and Madrid’s accounting from the perimeter to 0 out of 10 in triples, until Llull hit it. The white blanket fell too short. In his effort to defend himself against Efes’ arsenal, he was disastrously out of focus in attack. The Efes concreted his defense and Madrid fell on the scoreboard. A triple by Moerman made it 71-53 in the 32nd minute and unleashed the Turkish shaking, which left the feeling of being and being better than his rival. On Thursday, in the same place and at the same time, second round.
In the day’s other tie, Armani Milan took the first point after defeating Bayern in a fast-paced final. The German team was overwhelming at the start and reached an advantage of 19 points (21-40, m. 18). But Olimpia reacted and set course with the outstanding performance of Sergio Rodríguez. A triple from the Tenerife point guard made it 77-74 in favor of the Italians with 36s to go. Later, two free throws by Gist rearmed Bayern (77-78) And, with 1 second left, Messina’s board drew the miracle. Leday broke free of his mark and picked up the ball hanging from the throw-in to achieve the winning basket (79-78).