Tofas tops Lokomotiv in thriller to reach Top 16!
Tofas Bursa reached the 7DAYS EuroCup Top 16 for the first time in club history by beating Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar 92-90 at home in a thrilling win-or-go-home game for both teams. Sammy Mejia scored 21 points while DJ White had 15 as Tofas improved to 5-5 in Group B and booked its ticket to the next phase of the competition. Devin Williams added 13 points and Muhsin Yasar and Berk Ugurlu both finished with 11 points for the winners. Former champion Lokomotiv finished 4-6 and failed to survive the regular season for the first time in seven EuroCup campaigns. Johnny O'Bryant had 18 points while Sam Dekker picked up 17 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists and Mindaugas Kuzminskas added 17 points in the loss. Mantas Kalnietis and Will Cummings both chipped in 12 points but they were not enough as Lokomotiv lost both games to Tofas this season.
Both teams were extremely efficient offensively in the early going. O'Bryant scored his team's first 5 points and Kalnietis knocked down a three-pointer while Alan Williams's three-point play made it 10-15. Devin Williams answered with an and-one and Muhaymin Mustafa knocked down a trey as Tofas went up 20-19. Dekker responded with some highlight reel plays as the guests pulled back ahead 21-25. The back and forth continued with Alan Williams hitting the final 3 points of the quarter as Lokomotiv was up 26-28 in a thrilling first 10 minutes. After Cummings started the second quarter for the guests, Mejia scored 6 straight points, Yasar combined a block with a dunk, andTarik Phillip put back a miss as the gap widened to 37-32. Mejia nailed a big three as the advantage grew to 46-40, but Kuzminskas punched back with a triple and the score was 48-43 at the break. Tofas started the second half with a 7-0 run as White's three free throws made it 55-43. Lokomotiv needed more than 2 minutes to score but Dekker stopped the rut. White re-established the 12-point lead 59-47 but the hosts went scoreless for almost 5 minutes and Cummings and Kuzminskas combined for 9 points in an 0-13 run as Lokomotiv pulled ahead 61-62. White scored yet again just before the end of the third quarter and Tofas was up 63-62 after 30 minutes. O'Bryant's score opened the fourth quarter and put Lokomotiv back in front. The hosts punched back and Mejia's three made it 68-64. Cummings replied with a trey of his own but Yasar followed with two scores and Mejia and Ugurlu both knocked down three-balls for a 78-69 lead with 5 minutes left. Lokomotiv answered with the next 5 points only to see another Mejia trey extend the advantage to 83-74. White and Devin Williams both hit free throws for an 89-78 lead with 1:50 minutes left but O'Bryant responded with a three-ball and Dekker cut it to 89-83 with 56 seconds left. Tofas looked in control only to see Baris Ermis throw an in-bounds pass out of bounds with 35 seconds left. Kulagin followed with a three-point play and a turnover by Phillip resulted in a Kulagin layup to make it a 90-88 game with 23 seconds left. Phillip managed to make free throws with 20 seconds to go, which Kuzminskas countered with a layup. Mustafa had a chance to ice the game with 2 free throws with 9.9 seconds left but missed both. Luckily for him and Tofas fans, Dekker missed a potential game-winner at the buzzer.
Sammy Mejia was big all game for Tofas, knocking down 6 triples in scoring a game-high 21 points. He also chipped in 2 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals.
Home cooking for the youngster
Muhaymin Mustafa may have missed 2 free throws with 9.9 seconds left and nearly cost his team a chance for the Top 16, but the 20-year-old Tofas talent once again enjoyed the home cooking in the EuroCup. He has averaged 10.7 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.0 steals in three home games in the competition this season. In his four games on the road, Mustafa has just 2 points total.
Tofas was out-rebounded 43-26 but the home side shot 57.1% from long range and held Lokomotiv to just 28.6% on threes. Tofas also committed just 9 turnovers in the game.
Tofas can finally look forward to the Top 16 and will know its fate in the next round on Wednesday. The Turkish side will finish third in Group B if Lietuvos Rytas loses at Umana Reyer Venice or in fourth place if Rytas wins. Lokomotiv's EuroCup season is over, the first time it has been eliminated before the quarterfinals in six campaigns.
Tuesday, December 17, 2019