It took longer than expected, but Anadolu Efes showed the moxie and confidence of a champion on Friday at home.
In Round 7 of the 2021-22 EuroLeague season, Shane Larkin and Efes rolled over Zalgiris Kaunas, 94-60. The 34-point victory was the largest of the season for Efes, who has won two of their last three games after a 0-4 start to the year.
Efes bullied winless Zalgiris in every facet of the game. The Lithuanian club never scored more than 17 points in a quarter and shot just 33 percent from the field while Efes shot 11-of-23 from 3-point land and dominated the boards with a 44-28 rebounding difference.
Like in their first EuroLeague win of the season against UNICS, it was a full-scale team effort on the offensive end for Efes, who finished with 26 assists and five scorers in double figures led by Tibor Pleiss’ 17 points. Shane added eight points on four-of-five shooting on two-point attempts while being one of four Efes players with four assists; Shane also finished the night with two of the team’s five steals.
After Zalgiris went up 6-4 in the first three minutes of the game, a quick 10-0 run catapulted Efes into a lead they’d never relinquish. Going into the second quarter up 24-17, Efes really turned up the heat with a marvelous 20-point quarter that saw Shane score four points and dish out two assists in the final three minutes to take the Efes lead up to 15 at halftime.
The ball movement, off-ball cutting and energy by the Turkish side was the best it has been all season, and head coach Ergin Ataman felt after the game that his team was playing to the level of champions.
“We remembered that we are the champions, and we made 26 assists, another key for our offense,” coach Ataman said. “And we played with great energy and great confidence. This is a marathon.”
Those three key components of Efes’ electrifying offensive display continued into the second half, where the Turkish side pushed their lead to 23 at the end of the third with a 69-46 lead. Efes added another 25 points in the fourth quarter and held Zalgiris to just 14 as they cruised to victory.
“I feel like everybody stepped up from the last game,” Filip Petrusev said. “That’s what we needed. We got to get a win in every game, and it was a good team effort tonight.”
The reigning champions will look to start a win streak in the EuroLeague when they play again on Friday, November 5 against the 4-3 Russian club Zenit Saint Petersburg at Sinan Erdem Sports Hall.