Shavon Shields put on a show for Olimpia Milano on Tuesday as he scored a career-high 34 points in the EuroLeague Playoffs Game Five against Bayern Munich, a 92-89 win which sends them into the Final Four stage. Barcelona asserted their dominance as they cruised past Zenit St Petersburg for a 79-53 blowout win at the Palau Blaugrana. Anadolu Efes joins the pack as they fought past a tough Real Madrid side for an 88-83 win.
Bayern Munich were close to another comeback late in the fourth quarter but Shields starred in Milan to keep his team on course as they now play in the Final Four for the first time in 29 years. Speaking after the game, the Danish forward praised his opponents’ efforts as the game was a tight contest throughout.
“You’ve got to give Bayern credit so hats off to them. But this is what we came here for and we’re going to give it our best,” Shields said in the post-game comments.
Milan coach Ettore Messina lauded his players’ fight and could not hide his elation after the win.
“My players were amazing tonight,” Messina said, “To lose two games in a row and nearly lose this but we came back and it was a good stop by Kyle Hines to help us get the win.
“I’m happy for everybody- it’s a great win.”
In front of Milan owner Georgio Armani present courtside, both sides traded blows until Shields scored ten in five minutes to put his side up by two at the end of the first quarter. This momentum took over the game as Milan got an 11-point lead with a 12-0 run.
Defense was on the mind of both sides during the halftime break as Shields insisted that the 40 points Bayern had scored were “too much” and that they needed to lock down. Bayern coach Andrea Trinchieri also had this to say about Milan, saying: “We were passive on defense and it cost us ten points”.
Shields reached his career-high while shooting five-of-six from three-point range just as Milan began to dominate with a 25 point lead in the beginning of the fourth. But Bayern found the strength to start a comeback, bringing the game down to two points with 12 seconds to go. Wade balwdin could have tied but was stopped by Kyle Hines in the final play of the game and following the rebound, Shields was sent to the line as he ended the game with freethrows.
Barcelona had an easier path to the win on Tuesday, with the highlight of the game being the return of Pau Gasol to the scoreboard for the first time in the series.
“Every game is a final and we did a good job in the first half, and a better one in the second,” Gasol said.
“I had a good week in practice. Now I just want to keep on getting better to help the team.”
Sarunas Jasikevicius’s men were up double-digits as Zenit struggled, ending the first half with a 13-point lead.
Zenit coach Xavi Pascual lamented his side’s sloppy performance saying they had no control over the game. But not even the double-digit assists from Kevin Pangos could bring Zenit close to Barca, who were a wall on defense and went on a 12-0 run to bring the margin up by 23 points.
Zenit were in trouble by then as the gap grew too deep for them to come back as Barca go through to the Final Four with a 26-point win.
Efes fight off Real
Chris Singleton scored 26 points as Anadolu Efes beat Real Madrid in a tightly-contested game earlier on Tuesday. The American forward led the game in scoring, adding eight rebounds as he was effective on both sides of the court.
Speaking after the game, Singleton insisted it was the trust of his coach which helped him play such a great game.
“I just wanted to win today. Coach believed in me and because of that, I could put some shots in,” Singleton said.
“We started the season off so bad. But Shane (Larkin) was right – he said ‘look at the end’ and here we are in the Final Four”.
Coach Ergin Ataman believes his side deserved the win, having already been confident ahead of the game.
“There are some great emotions for us,” Ataman said.
“Tonight we played our worst game but we have great players. Real never give up but finally we found good defense to win the game. I’m very proud and very happy to be in the Final Four.”
The first half was a pretty balanced encounter, with Real edging Efes in both quarters to end the first half 36-41. But Efes took charge in the third quarter, coming back from five points down to go ten points ahead. Singleton had the hot hand on the night as he kept Efes on top with Real trailing closeby.
Real’s Nicolas Laprovittola was a thorn in Efes’ side with 17 points, four-of-seven from three. The game became a downtown shooting fest as both sides relied on threes to respond to eachother. But when Walter Tavares fouled out with 6.5 seconds to go, Real had no way to stop Efes from winning.
Barcelona face Olimpia Milano as Anadolu Efes meet CSKA Moscow, who were the first to qualify with a sweep over Fenerbahce, in the Final Four at the end of May.