Usman Garuba was the standout player with 24 points and 12 rebounds on Thursday as Real Madrid took a second consecutive EuroLeague Playoff win against Anadolu Efes to tie the series and force a Game Five.
The Spanish center was instrumental for another second-half comeback as Real turned an 11-point deficit to a six-point lead to win 82-76 in Madrid. Asked about the win, Garuba showed his joy but put all his praise towards the team’s veterans.
“I always trust my team and I’m very happy with the win today,” Garuba said after the game.
“We have a lot of experienced players and we listened to them tonight.”
Real coach Pablo Lasso, in a similar celebratory mood himself, lauded his side’s efforts.
“We stayed focused, kept working and never gave up – my player showed this. It was a fun game to watch and now we go to Istanbul to continue our work,” Lasso said.
The ten-time champions started the game in impressive fashion with Jaycee Carroll getting 11 points to start the game before Garuba and Alberto Abalde combined for six as the side went on a 17-0 run before Efes’ Krunoslav Simon opened the scoring for his side, who then took over the lead by the start of the second quarter. The halftime break was a godsend for Real after a 34-17 quarter for Efes.
During the break, Efes guard Rodrigue Beaubois praised his side’s fight, saying they had a great reaction: “We were not ready but we had a great reaction and we need to fight even harder in the second half”.
The side’s headcoach Ergin Ataman insisted that once Efes had found their defensive rhythm, they got going.
“It’s a tough game. The most important part is to play good defense and continue in the same way,” Ataman said.
Lasso blamed the first half margin on the side’s turnovers.
“With our turnovers, we gave (Efes) life. So we need to control the ball,” Lasso said.
Real’s Carroll also attributed the halftime deficit to fouls, saying that the side would have to play hard just like they started and watch their fouls.
The side did just that and brought the game into a more balanced affair reducing the deficit to nine points.
But the fourth quarter was their time to shine as Garuba spearheaded a spirited comeback for Real as they brought the gap to just two points. Abalde landed a three to take the lead with 1.42 minutes to go and the rest was history.