After failing on its two previous tries, Besiktas Cola Turka soared into the ULEB Cup elimination rounds with an undefeated record after defeating host Koln 99ers by 62-73 on Tuesday in Cologne, Germany. Besiktas raised its Group B record to 7-0 and now joins DKV Joventut of Group A as the only unbeaten teams among 54 who started the regular season. Its next win will clinch first place for Besiktas in the group, too. Koln, meanwhile, fell to 4-3 and third place. Besiktas finished close opening quarters strong, but turned the corner for good with great defense after halftime, guarding double-digit leads most of the second half. Balanced scoring marked the way for Besiktas as Sandro Nicevic, Preston Shumpert and Rick Apodaca scored 12 points each while Cevher Ozer added 10. Koln got 15 points from Toby Bailey, 13 from Yassin Idbihi and 12 from Immanuel McElroy.
Koln got the start it needed, getting four different scores involved in an early 9-8 lead: Milko Bjelica, Idbihi, Bailey and McElroy. And when Besiktas hit back, with Shumpert's third basket making it 12-12, Koln didn't shrink, but rather when back ahead 16-12 on Ibdihi's two-pointer. Cevher Ozer decided the first quarter, however, with 5 points in a minute that left Besiktas ahead 17-20. In the second quarter, Derrick Byars and McElroy kept Koln close until Bailey could pump in a go-ahead triple at 24-22. Kaya Peker and Apodaca took the lead back for the visitors until Misan Nikagbatse scored 5 points in two shots for Koln. Again, however, Besiktas finished the quarter strong, with Christian Dalmau draining shots from outside and inside the arc as the visitors held sway, 31-34, at halftime. Except for another triple by Dalmau, Besiktas looked to big men Peker, Shumpert and Nicevic to boost the lead into double-digits, 37-48, soon after halftime. When Apodaca blasted a new three-pointer, and thanks to a defense now suffocating Koln, Besiktas still led comfortably at 45-57 after three quarters. After that, whenever Koln tried to lower the difference to single digits, Besiktas had an answer: Apodaca's latest triple, at 48-62, and Peker's inside shot at 59-71, when it was too late for Koln to do anything but trim the lead and hope that its own chance at the elimination rounds comes soon.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007