With great defense on the road, Besiktas Cola Turka topped STB Le Havre 61-68 in France on Tuesday to even its record and turn around its luck in Group C. Besiktas upped its record to 1-1 and is now tied for second place with Khimki Moscow behind undefeated Benetton Basket. Le Havre fell to 0-2 and must start to win soon if it wants to reach the Last 16. While the Besiktas defense clamped down on Le Havre, Mire Chatman orchestrated the visitors' offense with 12 assists, only 3 fewer than all of Le Havre's players combined. Chatman also made 4 steals and hit some crucial baskets in the second half to finish with 9 points. Jimmy Baxter scored 18 points for Besiktas and Cevher Ozer had another great game with 15 points and 9 rebounds for the winners. T.J. Thompson kept the hosts alive with his offensive skills for most of the second half to lead Le Havre with 22 points, including 4 triples, while Bingo Merriex netted 14 points and grabbed 7 rebounds. Next Tuesday, Besiktas and Khimki Moscow will break their second-place tie, while winless Le Havre will face Benetton in a tough test in Treviso.
The French crowd didn't seem to trouble Besiktas as Adem Oren and Omer Unver gave the guests a perfect start with 5 unanswered points. Marcus Slaughter opened the scoring for Le Havre and Merriex added 5 straight points to even it up at 7-7. But Baxter nailed a triple that would spark a 0-10 Besiktas run, including 5 points from Muratcan Güler. Brian Laing and Fabien Causeur stepped up with a dunk and a triple for the hosts, before Ozer scored 4 straight for the visitors. Thompson finished the quarter with 4 points of his own to help Le Havre get closer at 18-21. Ozer and Thompson exchanged baskets to start the second quarter. Then big men Dennis Mims and Oren overpowered Le Havre with 6 points inside, but Causeur used his speed to score 4 points for the hosts. Rudy Jomby hit two free throws to tie the game for the first time since 7-7, but on the quarter's last possession, Baxter grabbed an offensive rebound and scored to put the guests ahead, 30-32.
The second half started just like the first, with Besiktas scoring three baskets. Chatman notched his first points of the night with a triple that started an exchange of long shots, with each team hitting a pair in four straight possessions. Both teams continued to shoot three-pointers, too, but the next few missed before Aleksandar Bojic grabbed an offensive rebound and scored for Le Havre. Thompson then downed his second three-pointer of the quarter to put the hosts as close as 41-42. Ozer and Baxter quickly restored the Besiktas led, however, and soon Oren's layup made it 43-51 with 10 minutes to go. Chatman connected on his second triple to expand the Besiktas lead at the start of the fourth quarter, but Thompson stayed hot for the hosts, hitting twice from downtown to cut it the difference to 52-57. Ozer and Baxter were there again with 4 points for Besiktas, as time was becoming an issue for Le Havre. Thompson stole to score a layup and added 2 free throws to again trim the Besiktas lead to 5 points, 56-61, but after Haluk Yildirim split free throws for the guests, Le Havre turned the ball over, forcing head coach Jean Manuel Sousa to call a timeout with about 90 seconds left on the clock. In this crucial moment, the teams exchanged turnovers, before Chatman was fouled and made both free throws. Danny Strong gave Le Havre hope with a three, but there was simply not enough time for more and Besiktas could celebrate a 61-68 victory.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008