Anadolu Efes fulfilled their dream of winning the EuroLeague title after lifting the trophy on Sunday with an 86-81 win against Barcelona.
Last season’s finalists – runners up against CSKA Moscow – had a second half to remember at the Lanxess Arena in Cologne on Sunday with Final Four MVP Vasilje Micic running the show together with fellow guard Shane Larkin for the Istanbul side as Barcelona could not match their efforts.
Micic led the game in scoring with 25 points, as Larkin followed with 21, as center Sertac Sanli added 12.
Speaking post-game, Serbian guard Micic, who won both MVP awards this season, said he was more interested in the team’s showing rather than personal accolades.
“I don’t care about personal awards but I do care about how we stuck together and we showed that we are good and for the history of the club, I’m proud,” Micic said.
Larkin called this win ‘justification’ after having been with the side as they lost 91-83 in last season’s championship game. Another redemption comes for coach Ergin Ataman as he led the side to their first ever EuroLeague title in their history.
“We said we can do this and we did,” Ataman said.
“We made a lot of mistakes in the first quarter but (Shane) larkin is one of the best players in the league. Him and (Vasilje) Micic won us the game today.”
Sanli had a hothand at the start of the game, but it was Barcelona who took control of proceedings from the opening tip to take the first quarter 22-15. It was a very physical opener with both sides in the bonus after seven minutes.
Barcelona guard Cory Higgins will feel hard-done-by after scoring the game’s first three and eventually leading his team in points. The game winner in the semi-final against Olimpia Milano on Friday scored 23 as Kyle Kuric followed with 18, and Brandon Davies added 17.
The second quarter saw the greatest turnaround as Barca took a 10-point lead before Efes went on a 12-0 run to change the lead before the half.
By then, Larkin had been 0-2 from the field saying that Barca were “very aggressive on defense – trying to not let me have the ball”.
But Barcelona’s foul trouble and consistency from Efes saw the Istanbul side take an 11-point lead in the third quarter.
Clearly, Barcelona had had control over the first half, but Efes were rising up to the challenge to dominate the second half. In spite of this, the game became closer and closer with Barcelona eventually tieing up the game at 69-a-piece.
Micic gave Efes some breathing room with a three before Higgins responded with a three-point play, 4.14 minutes from time. Intentional fouling brought Barca down to a five-point margin but Kuric made it three before Micic got two from the charity stripe. These were to be the winning points as the buzzer confirmed Efes as this year’s winners.
In the third-place game between CSKA Moscow and Olimpia Milano, Ettore Messina’s men dominated to beat former title holders CSKA 83-73.