Dolomiti Energia Trento captain Toto Forray has been with the team since February 2011. When he first signed with the club, it's safe to say that European glory was not among his goals. After all, Trento was in Italy's third division. Over the years, the team's longest-serving player helped it climb two levels in Italy and become a perennial 7DAYS EuroCup participant.
In that time, there are countless games in which Forray was the hero, whether in the climb to the top level in Italy or its march to the EuroCup Semifinals in 2016. However, this season, at age 33 and under a new head coach, Forray's role was lessening. He naturally remains the team leader, but entering Round 6, Forray was averaging career-lows in the EuroCup in minutes played (16:49), scoring (4.8 ppg.), assists (1.2 apg.), steals (1.0 spg.) and performance index rating (3.2).
Against Galatasaray in Istanbul though, Forray produced his finest game of the season to lift Trento on a spirited comeback for an important road win that put it strongly in contention for a ticket to the Top 16. He scored a season-high 19 points on 3-of-4 three-point shooting plus 2 assists and 1 steal for a performance index rating of 16.
Three things from Forray's performance stand out above the rest. First was the timing; he shined in the fourth quarter with 14 points. It started with a pair of Forray three-pointers on Trento's first two possessions of the quarter. Those shots began a run that led to Trento's first lead of the game. He scored twice more in that run, but Galatasaray reeled off 9 unanswered points to recapture the lead. It was then that Forray stepped up with the game-winning shot. With a little more than 1 minute to play, Forray came off a screen, took a pass from Aron Craft, fired up a three-pointer from the corner and was fouled. His shot took a fortunate bounce and went in. Forray added the bonus free throw for a 75-78 lead that Trento kept for good.
In the game's closing seconds, Galatasaray had the ball and a three-pointer would have tied it. Coach Brienza ordered his team to foul so that the hosts could not shoot a three-pointer. Who was the player who stepped up to commit the foul even though he had 4 already? Forray sacrificed himself and fouled Lazeric Jones and went to the bench with 5 fouls. That well-timed play helped Trento wrap up the game.
And finally, it's noteworthy that after the game when he was pulled aside for an on-camera interview, Forray spoke about his team and his opponent. Not one word about himself: "I am happy for the team because we won after some bad games and today we started the game with the right mentality. Galatasaray played really good in the first half, but we were there, we kept the focus and we made the break. That was the key. We got confidence there and we were focused until the end. Of course, we try to win. It’s our mentality."
It was classic Forray. Game-winning hero. Team leader. Modest man.