Anadolu Efes Istanbul entered the season with the best of expectation and the bar set at an all-time excessive. After reaching the 2019 Turkish Airways EuroLeague Championship Recreation after which dominating the 2019-20 season, which was prematurely ended by the COVID-19 pandemic, Efes was not hiding its intention to compete for EuroLeague glory.
Nonetheless, Efes began the season flat and wanted time to seek out its groove. With out Shane Larkin within the lineup, Coach Ergin Ataman’s males misplaced three of their first 4 video games, together with back-to-back defeats at dwelling to start out the season in opposition to Zenit St Petersburg and crosstown rival Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul.
Efes went on its first little run in Spherical 6, when it edged Olympiacos Piraeus, Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv and Panathinaikos OPAP Athens in consecutive weeks by a mixed margin of 10 factors. The staff appeared to be shifting in the proper course and was sitting on a 6-4 document, however couldn’t maintain the shape throughout a troublesome stretch of video games that adopted.
The staff suffered a 59-77 dwelling loss by the hands of TD Techniques Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz and shortly got here a three-game shedding streak that included a highway loss in opposition to Valencia Basket on Klemen Prepelic’s buzzer-beater, a 35-point defeat in opposition to CSKA in Moscow, and a house loss in opposition to AX Armani Alternate Milan, which dropped Efes’s document to 7-8. Efes beat first-place FC Barcelona 86-79, however completed the primary half of the common season with a 65-73 dwelling loss in opposition to Actual Madrid that dropped the staff into eleventh place.
As soon as the calendar flipped to 2021, Efes become the staff everybody anticipated to see this season. It began January with three consecutive wins earlier than hitting its most spectacular stretch of the season.
Efes was undefeated in eight video games between January 26 and March 16. An 86-88 highway win in Barcelona indicated that one thing was brewing, however what adopted had been six straight wins of twenty-two factors or extra for a median margin of victory of 25.3 factors.
The run included a rally from 15 factors down in a formidable 76-53 win in opposition to Olympiacos which made some EuroLeague historical past, adopted by a 28-point highway win over Fenerbahce behind a career-high 37 factors from Vasilije Micic. The following two-round week noticed Efes take pleasure in a 16-point win over Valencia and a 100-70 drubbing of CSKA which head coach Ergin Ataman referred to as ‘excellent basketball’.
Efes, naturally, rocketed up the standings and moved into third place with a 19-10 document. A final-second 80-79 defeat in Munich was only a small bump within the highway, as Efes proceeded to win three extra video games. Efes clinched a playoff spot with a powerful 83-108 win in Spherical 32 over its eventual playoff opponent Actual and locked up home-court benefit two days later with a 101-111 highway win in opposition to Baskonia, as Shane Larkin exploded with a season-high 30 factors within the area he is aware of so properly whereas Efes set a membership document for factors scored.
Efes had the luxurious of taking a break day within the regular-season finale in Milan, however that didn’t shake the staff’s confidence heading into the playoffs and a best-of-five sequence in opposition to Actual. Formally the reigning runner-up, Efes plans to maintain enjoying like a title contender and is set to showcase extra of its ‘excellent basketball’.