Galatasaray Café Crown boosted its Last 16 hopes while handing Alba Berlin its first loss in Group A with a 93-79 decision in Istanbul. Darius Washington was unstoppable as he amassed 31 points on excellent shooting (10 of 12 two-pointers, 2 of 3 threes) in addition to 8 rebounds and 5 assists for the winners. Berlin hung around all game and was within 4 early in the fourth quarter before an 8-0 Galatasaray run put the score out of reach. Galatasaray ran the lead up to 17 in the final minute as it celebrated a win that took its record to 2-2. Galatasaray visits Azovmash Mariupol in its next game after the winter break. Meanwhile Berlin remains atop Group A at 3-1 and will next meet BancaTercas Teramo in Italy. Mike Wilkinson scored 20 for the winners, Simas Jasaitis added 19 points and 7 rebounds, Rado Rancik scored 15 and Evren Buker tallied 7 assists and 4 steals. Rashad Wright led a well-balanced Berlin effort with 13 points, Adam Chubb and Julius Jenkins scored 12 apiece, Immanuel McElroy had 11 and Derrick Byars and Blagota Sekulic 10 each in defeat.
Berlin won the opening tip, but it was Galatasaray that struck first when Buker’s steal led to a Washington layup. Dragan Dojcin found Sekulic for a slam and Alba’s first basket, but Wilkinson’s triple and a Rancik basket had the hosts on top. Berlin came back with a Jenkins triple and another Sekulic slam to tie it at 7-7. The cat and mouse continued with the hosts opening up small leads and Berlin nipping at their heels. Chubb gave the visitors a short-lived 14-15 edge before a Polat Kocaoglu triple and a pair of Washington baskets helped Galatasaray surge ahead. Byars became active inside for Alba, drawing fouls and making free throws, but Washington with a basket-plus-foul put the hosts up 28-10 after 10 minutes. Jasaitis gave the home side its first double-digit lead with a three-pointer to start the second quarter. Byars and Jenkins answered with baskets to keep the Alba spirit intact. Kenan Bajramovic drilled a three to cut the gap to 31-27. Wilkinson and Rancik stretched the Galatasaray lead back to 8 when Berlin used a timeout. However the momentum remained with the hosts as Rancik converted a basket-plus-foul and Washington stole the ball and coasted in for a layup that made it 40-27. Dojcin ended the Berlin drought and Wright attacked the basket, but Galatasaray always had an answer. But a Bajramovic triple and Chubb free throws capped a 0-7 spurt to bring the visitors within 44-38 at halftime.
A Jenkins triple and a Sekulic layup brought Berlin all the back to within 3 early in the third quarter as the local fans sat silent. Washington got going for Galatasaray, but Jenkins rifled in another three to make it 48-46. Washington remained the Gala go-to guy, hitting a three and then adding back-to-back baskets to pump the lead to 57-48. McElroy came right back with a three and free throws and in little time the gap closed again. Byars ended the period with a triple that made it 63-59. Washington started the fourth quarter with a slam, but the teams proceeded to trade baskets in the next few minutes. The tide of the game turned when Berlin went scoreless for nearly four minutes, while Rancik and Wilkinson took the hosts' advantage to 76-63. Wright and McElroy each brought the deficit to 9, but Washington scored from the line to reach 30 points and Jasaitis sealed the win with a slam that peaked the lead at 17 en route to an important victory.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009