A point-for-point battle for survival finally titled to the home team on Tuesday when Galatasaray Cafe Crown outlasted Asvel Basket 76-75 to win their Last 32 series in dramatic fastion and advance to the next round. Galatasaray's opponent in the Last 16 will be Kalise Gran Canaria of Spain, with the opener of their two-game series to be held in Istanbul on March 11. First, however, Galatasaray had to survive a mighty challenge by Asvel that went down to the closing seconds and set the fans in Istanbul to celebrating. In the end, a 16-0 run in the third quarter helped Galatasaray avoid disaster and let Cuneyt Erden save the day with 6 points in the final 30 seconds. Erden led the winners with 19 points, while Cenk Akyol added 17 and Robert Hite 10. Charles Gaines put up a double-double of 13 points and 12 rebounds for the winners. Asvel, which led by as many as 12 points right after halftime, put five scorers in double figures. Lamayne Wilson had 15 points, Yohann Sangare and Uchenna Nsomwu 13 each, Chevon Troutman 12 and Laurent Foirest 10, all at the free throw line, including
Akyol got Galatasaray off to a quick 4-0 lead but Nsomwu soon matched that. The trend continued, Galatasaray moving ahead and Asvel tying, at 6-6, 11-11, 16-16, and 18-18, the middle two times on triples by Robert Conley and Sangare, respectively. Erden joined with Akyol to finish off the quarter as Galatasaray had started it, with a four-point lead, 22-18. Asvel continued replying however, and finally went ahead for the first time at 25-26 on Aymeric Jeanneau's first basket. The lead changed hands on the next possessions before Troutman scored 8 unanswered points to push Asvel in front by 29-36. Nsomwu added another two-pointer for Asvel, making it a 0-10 run, before Hite revived Galatasaray with a triple. Asvel kept rolling, however, with extra baskets by Nsomwu and Wilson, to a 35-45 halftime lead.
Conley's basket to start the second half gave Asvel it's biggest lead, 35-47, bu then his unsportsmanlike foul on Akyol signaled a change in momentum. Huseyin Besok soon scored to ignite a turnaround run for the hosts. Erden and Akyol drilled triples before Gaines scored twice and Hite hit the go-ahead fast-break fadeaway at 52-51, charging up the home crowd. Akyol added a fastbreak layup for a 16-0 Galatasaray run before Nsomwu stopped the bleeding for Asvel with a put-back at 54-53. Now it was Murat Kaya committing an unsportsmanlike foul on Foirest, who would make 5 of 5 free throws total on the possession, changing the momentum again. With Wilson's put-back, Asvel reached the end of three quarters guarding a 57-60 lead. Gaines single-handedly put Galatasaray back in front with the first two baskets of the fourth quarter, the second off a rebound to make it 61-60. Troutman answered with a basket inside at 61-62 before Wilson and Nsomwu added 3 points to Asvel's lead from the free throw line. Soon, however, Asvel allowed Hite to drive for a game-tying three-point play at 65-65 with under 3 minutes left. Galatasaray pressed and Asvel turned the ball over, letting Besok back down for a turnaround jumper. Next, however, Wilson launched from the corner, putting Asvel ahead by 67-68 on the scoreboard. Asvel put Hite on the line, and he made both shots, putting Galatasaray up a point, 69-68. Wilson went back to the corner, but missed and on the next possession, Erden drilled a deep two-pointer to make it 71-68 with 30 seconds left. Foirest went to the line next, making both, but so did Erden on the ensuing possession to keep Galatasaray up by 3 points, 73-70. Foirest went 2 for 2 again before Murat Kaya missed first of his pair. After Foirest turned the ball over, however, Erden made his last 2 free throws, which meant that Sangare's buzzer-beating triple couldn't tie and Galatasaray had its ticket to the Last 16 in dramatic fashion.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008