Galatasaray Cafe Crown became the first team to advance to the ULEB Cup semifinals by downing Besiktas Cola Turka 60-61 in the all-Turkish Quarterfinal opener at Palavela in Turin, Italy, on Thursday. Cuneyt Erden, who had been scoreless for more than 39 minutes and had missed 7 shots from downtown, buried the game-winning three-pointer with 7.7 seconds remaining. Robert Hite paced the winners with 22 points while Charles Gaines grabbed 9 rebounds for Galatasaray. Predrag Drobnjak had 17 points for Besiktas and Preston Shumpert added 14. Hite led a 4-12 opening run that allowed Galatasaray to keep an 11-19 margin at the end of the first quarter. Three-pointers by Hite and Huseyin Besok gave Galatasaray its biggest margin, 11-25, early in the second quarter. Besiktas struggled to score while a catch-and-shoot jumper by the ever-present Hite kept Galatasaray ahead 24-35 at halftime. Drobnjak became Besiktas's go-to guy after the break and free throws by Rick Apodaca got his team within 42-49 after 30 minutes. Shumpert and Drobnjak got Besiktas even closer, 49-51, but Cenk Akyol and Hite struck from downtown to give Galatasaray some fresh air. Even with that, Apodaca and Shumpert made free throws to give Besiktas its only lead of the game, 60-58. Erden stepped up with the game-winning triple to win it for Galatasaray.
Galatasaray head coach Murat Ozyer sprung a surprise by placing Britton Johnsen at small forward – his first start in the ULEB Cup this season. Galatasaray tried to get him involved early due to his matchup with Christian Dalmau of Besiktas, but Hite got Galatasaray going first. Sandro Nicevic immediately answered with a dunk for Besiktas, but Chris Owens and Gaines soon took over with consecutive slams for a 2-6 Galatasaray lead. Besiktas kept struggling to score until Sinan Guler stepped up with a second-chance layup that Hite matched with a wild alley-oop dunk. Johnsen shined with a reverse layup and fed Gaines for a fastbreak basket to boost his team's lead to 4-12, forcing Besiktas to call timeout. Nevertheless, Hite struck from downtown to cap a 0-9 run for Galatasaray. Besiktas tried to change the momentum with Drobnjak on court. He immediately scored around the basket and buried a three-pointer to bring his team back to life at 9-15. Besiktas had adjusted its defense, but now struggled to score inside with Galatasaray center Besok on court. Dee Brown made free throws but Shumpert replied for Besiktas with a layup before a five-meter jumper by Hite gave Galatasaray an 11-19 lead after 10 minutes.
Hite nailed his second triple to start the second quarter and Besok also struck from downtown to cap another 0-9 run with a 14-point lead, 11-25. Besiktas tried to change things with Dalmau and Kaya Peker back on court. It worked well, as Peker stepped up with a jump hook that Dalmau followed with a floating layup to make Galatasaray call timeout at 15-25. Besiktas kept its momentum going through Drobnjak but Akyol answered for Galatasaray with a layup to make it 16-27. Galatasaray had ball circulation problems despite having twin playmakers, Brown and Cuneyt Erden, on court. Meanwhile, Guler shined with a driving layup. Besiktas had already started to dominate the boards. but Brown beat the 24-second shot-clock with a floating layup and added a fastbreak basket off a steal to restore an 13-point Galatasaray edge, 18-31, after 17 minutes. Shumpert scored in transition for Besiktas but he didn't find much help. Galatasaray kept excelling on defense, now with Johnsen at power forward. He took over with a put-back layup, which Erkan Veyseloglu answered from downtown as Besiktas reduced the difference to single digits, 24-33. Not to be outdone, however, Hite beat the buzzer with a catch-and-shoot jumper for a 24-35 Galatasaray lead at the break.
Nicevic sank back-to-back six-meter jumpers immediately after the break to bring Besiktas back to life at 28-35. Galatasaray went scoreless in the opening two minutes of the third quarter while Peker got Besiktas even closer, 29-35. Galatasaray finally found a go-to guy in Gaines, who followed free throws with a wild put-back dunk to give his team some fresh air at 29-39. Galatasaray entered the foul bonus too early, however, and Besiktas opted to attack the basket and play more aggressive. Shumpert hit a free throw that Hite bettered with a power basket. Owens sank a jumper that restored a 13-point Galatasaray lead, 30-43. Mehmet Yagmur shined with a driving layup that Akyol erased with an off-balance jumper for a 33-46 Galatasaray margin. Drobnjak fired in a triple from the right wing and soon added free throws to give Besiktas some hope, 38-46. Owens kept pacing Galatasaray with a fade-away jumper and the free throw that came with it. Drobnjak took over with a left-handed jump hook and Apodaca added free throws – his first points of the night – as Besiktas drew to within 42-49 after three quarters.
Besiktas improved its defense with its starting lineup back on court early in the fourth quarter, causing Galatasaray to go scoreless for two minutes. Meanwhile, a free throw by Drobnjak made it a 6-point game, 43-49. Shumpert sank a jumper that Hite matched at the other end for a 45-51 Galatasaray edge with less than seven minutes remaining. Dalmau returned to the floor and Besiktas improved its offense right away, while Drobnjak and Shumpert stepped up with consecutive layups that brought their team back in the game at 49-51. Galatasaray called a much-needed timeout and Akyol sank a key three-pointer, but Shumpert kept Besiktas close, 51-54. Hite nailed a triple from the left corner only to see Nicevic hit free throws to keep Besiktas within 4 with three minutes to go. Drobnjak made a free throw, but he missed from downtown in his team's next possession. Hite made foul shots, but Dalmau hit an acrobatic shot and Apodaca made free throws to tie it at 58-58 with 64 seconds remaining. Shumpert drew an offensive foul on Johnsen and soon made free throws to complete his team's comeback and give Besiktas its first lead at 60-58 with 46 seconds to go. It all came down to the final Galatasaray possession, as Erden sank a corner triple with 7.3 seconds to go. Dalmau committed a turnover in the final play, allowing Galatasaray to keep fighting for ULEB Cup glory!
Thursday, April 10, 2008