In the days leading up to the beginning of the 2021-22 season, Shane Larkin has spoken often about the large target pained on Anadolu Efes’ back due to their dual championship success last year. It didn’t take long for those words to prove prophetic in their Turkish Basketball Super League opener Saturday.

On a day Efes raised their their 15th BSL championship flag at Sinan Erdem Sports Hall, the team survived an early season scare with a 94-93 overtime victory over Yukatel Merkezefendi Belediyesi.

In his first game action since last summer, Shane Larkin played nearly 30 minutes and contributed 10 points and a game-high seven assists, including a huge dish to reigning EuroLeague MVP Vasilije Micic in the waning minutes of OT to give Efes a 93-90 lead.

Micic led the way in the scoring department along with center Bryant Dunston, both players scoring 22 points. Efes held a nine-point halftime lead, but a second half comeback by Yukatel Merkezefendi nearly ruined the celebratory day at Sinan Erdem Sports Hall. But Efes weathered the storm with strong team defense and a clean offensive game that saw them turn the ball over just three times all game.

In the first quarter, Shane opened up his scoring this season with a four-point play for Anadolu Efes’ second basket of the game. He later pushed the lead to 13 with 1:40 left in the first half as he took advantage of Yukatel Merkezefendi’s slow transition defense with a three at the top of the arc.

Anadolu Efes went into the second half with a 48-39 lead, but Yukatel Merkezefendi came out strong in the third quarter with an 11-2 run to level the score at the mid-way point of the third quarter. After a deep three to end the quarter, Yukatel Merkezefendi went into the fourth quarter with a 66-65 lead over the reigning league champions. Efes responded with tighter perimeter defense and took a four-point lead with 20 seconds left, but two straight threes in the final seconds forced the game into extended time.

In the overtime period, five points from Dunston and the crucial 3-pointer from Micic, off a feed from Shane, were just enough to put Anadolu Efes ahead for good as they hung onto a one-point lead, thanks to a free throw from Dunston, to secure their first win of the season.

Efes returns to action on Thursday, September 30 when they head to Spain take on Real Madrid in their first EuroLeague matchup of the season. Tip-off is scheduled for 9:45 pm local time, 2:45 p.m. ET.