Anadolu Efes Istanbul enters this week riding a seven-game winning streak and the red-hot team has gotten great production during this run from big man Sertac Sanli, who went from hardly playing to being instrumental in Efes’s success.
Embracing a sudden late-January change from role player off the bench to starting center, Sanli responded by delivering in impressive fashion. In a short period of time, he has become one of the hottest players in the EuroLeague at a most exciting part of the season, down the final stretch with teams fighting for playoff spots.
The 29-year old center, who is in his third season with the team, had a very limited role this season before Round 20. In his 12 appearances to that point, he averaged just 3.6 points while making a minimal impact on the glass with a total of 6 rebounds up to that point. However, Sanli caught fire by scoring 19 points in 18 minutes in a Round 20 victory over Khimki Moscow Region. His improved play led to him assuming the role of starting center two rounds later. Still, going into Round 26, Sanli had averaged just 5.5 points and 1.2 rebounds per game. He was very efficient close to the basket, with 66.1% two-point shooting, but made just 2 triples in 17 games.
Over the last four games, Sanli has been playing like a man possessed. While averaging 14.8 points per game, Sanli has scored on 80% of all of his shots, including an amazing 85.7% on two-pointers, missing just 3 of 21 attempts. He has also shot 6-for-9 from three-point range over that span, making three times as many triples in the last four games as he had the entire season up to Round 26.
Even more impressive, his outstanding performances have all come against opponents in the playoff zone. He first scored 13 points on 6-for-6 shooting in a 74-106 drubbing of Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul, which he followed up with a career performance against Valencia Basket. In the 16-point win, Sanli came off the bench to post career-highs in points (20) and PIR (26). He made 4 of 6 two-point shots and was 3-for-3 from downtown.
The Efes center went on to score 14 points, making 6 of 7 field goals, along with 3 assists and 2 steals in a 100-70 thrashing of CSKA Moscow, before last week’s 12-point performances in a 27-point triumph against Zalgiris Kaunas.
Apart from scoring with high efficiency, Sanli has had a significant impact in other segments of Efes’s game since Round 26. Over this four-game period, he’s averaged 3.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.0 blocks, for an average performance index rating of 18.8 which ranks 10th in the EuroLeague in the last four rounds. All of that while playing just over 23 minutes per game.
These performances lifted Sanli to fifth place in the two-point shooting rankings in the league with 71.4% for the season. It has also made him one of the hottest players in the competition and the latest dangerous weapon Efes can unleash on its opponents.
Seen at: Euroleague.net