EA7 Milano proved that they can win with leading scorer Keith Langford as they defeated Anadolu Efes 76-69 in Group E of the Euroleague Top 16 to inch ever closer to a spot in the quarter-finals.
Trailing 53-49 heading into the fourth, Milano were looking frustrated. The visitors had played solid team basketball leading to the final ten minutes of action. Roared on by the EA7 Milano fans, they stormed back into contention and, led by Curtis Jerrells eventually took the lead in the final exchanges. The momentum Milano had proved too much for Anadolu Efes as they now only mathematically still in the Top 16 on a 2-9 record.
Milano improve to an 8-3 record on the back of their fourth straight win. Jerrells led the victors with 17 points; 11 of them in that vital fourth quarter, advised by Langford.
“We knew we had to play hard, but we struggled early on,” Jerrells said. “We needed to improve our defence. We kept going on and after the break we played better on both sides.
“I talked with Langford during the intermission, he told me to shoot and take risks. I did it, I scored and we won. We needed to be more aggressive on offence to win the game, and we did it. [We] know each other better, we’re playing together. We need to go forward looking game-by-game, day-by-day, but if we continue to be aggressive, we can advance.”
Milko Bjelica led Anadolu Efes with 16.
While Milano stays in second, Barcelona are now well on course to top Group E but they were pushed all the way by Unicaja Malaga, eventually winning 71-67 in Malaga to go 11-0.
Bostjan Nachbar paced Barca with 16 point with fellow Slovenian Erazem Lorbek and Ante Tomic adding 12 points, the latter adding 10 rebounds in the win. A win next week will guarantee first place for the Catalan side.
“The game was very hard and very intense,” Tomic admitted afterwards. “We knew that winning in Malaga was not easy and we have had to strain to our maximum to achieve this victory. We started the game very well, very concentrated on defence and attack. At halftime, the match was even. After the break, we did very well and we got an 8-0 run that was very important for the final victory.”
Malaga drop to 5-6 in the group as they look to maintain their push for a quarter-final spot. Earl Calloway led Unicaja with 15.
Reigning Euroleague champions Olympiacos thrashed eliminated Laboral Kutxa 89-59 in Greece in the other Group E clash.
A 22-7 shutout by the Reds ultimately sealed the win. Matthew Lojeski led the winners with 16 points as Olympiacos improve to 5-6 in a fourth-placed tie. Leo Mainoldi led Vitoria with 12.
The lone Group F game saw Galatasaray beat Bayern Munich 76-69 in Istanbul as they joined the party for the fourth place spot with the Germans and Lokomotiv Kuban.
Carlos Arroyo was outstanding with 16 points and 11 assists to lead Galatasaray. GB international Pops Mensah-Bonsu and Malik Hairston added 14 for the winners.
Malcolm Delaney led Munich with 16 points.