Galatasaray got closer to reach the Turkish Airlines Euroleague regular season for the first time ever by downing Asvel Basket 83-93 in the second semifinal of the Qualifying Round in Vilnius, Lithuania on Saturday. Galatasaray will reach the 2011-12 Euroleague if it beats Lietuvos Rytas in the go-ahead game tomorrow. The club last had a similar chance to get to Europe's top competition in 1990-91, losing in a two-way series against defending champion Pop 84 Split in the final two-way qualifying round. Asvel will play the 2011-12 Eurocup, in which will be its fifth appearance in the competition in the last seven years. Jaka Lakovic paced the winners with 22 points on 6-of-8 triples. Darius Songaila added 18, Cehver Ozer had 12 while Luksa Andric and Josh Shipp each got 11 for Galatasaray, that hit 14-of-23 shots from downtown tonight. Leo Westermann led Asvel with 18 points. Dijon Thompson added 17, Phil Goss 13, Hilton Armstrong 11 and Edwin Jackson 10. Galatasaray led 51-52 at halftime and a dunk by Jamon Gordon made it a double-digit game, 69-79, early in the fourth quarter. Jackson, Thompson and Bangaly Fofana managed to bring Asvel within 80-84 but Lakovic struck from downtown to seal the outcome down the stretch.
Armstrong got Asvel going with a jump hook but Shipp answered from downtown for a 2-3 Galatasaray lead. Goss joined the three-point shootout and Jackson added a fast break layup to put Asvel back ahead, 7-3. Ender Arslan downed a three-pointer in transition and found Songaila for a backdoor basket but a layup-plus-foul by a red hot Jackson gave Asvel a 10-8 lead. Goss sank a five-meter shot but Songaila matched it with a long shot and scored down low for a 12-12 tie. Thompson hit a fallaway jumper but a three-point play by Luksa Andric and a triple by Lakovic quickly restored a 14-18 Galatasaray lead. Paul Lacombe scored in penetration but Lakovic struck again from downtown. Westermann made free throws and Lacombe scored ahain but back-to-back baskets by an unstoppable Songaila kept Galatasaray ahead, 20-25. Three-pointers by Westermann and Gordon fixed the score at 23-28 after 10 minutes.
Galatasaray tried a matchup zone defense early in the second quarter but Westermann and Goss punished it with back-to-back three-pointers that made Asvel regain the lead, 29-28. Preston Shumpert also hit one from beyond the arc but a driving layup by Lacombe tied it at 31-31. Ozer joined the three-point shootout and Fulkan Aldemir added free throws but Westermann followed a rainbow jumper with a layup-plus-foul to provide another lead change, 37-36. Ozer and Goss traded triples but Westermann - who else? - gave Asvel a 42-39 lead. Kim Tillie found his first points from foul line, as Asvel improved its perimeter defense. Gordon followed free throws with a jumper but Armstrong and Thompson made Asvel get a 47-43 edge. Songaila shined with another reverse layup and Lakovic bettered Westermann's foul shots with a bomb from downtown. Free throws by Lakovic and a reverse layup by Andric allowed Galatarasay to reach halftime with a 51-52 lead.
Songaila scored in transition immediately after the break, as Galatasaray held Asvel scoreless for more than 2 minutes. Jackson stepped up with a floater in penetration that Shipp matched with a backdoor layup for a 53-56 score. Armstrong took over with a tip-in but Lakovic sank his trademark jumper off a screen. Asvel kept struggling to score and Lakovic downed a wide open three-pointer for a 55-61 Galatasaray lead. Songaila scored around the basket, as Asvel tried to run its offense through Armstrong. A three-point play by Lacombe gave Asvel some fresh air at 59-63. Songaila sank a baseline shot but free throws by Armstrong and Jackson got Asvel even closer, 62-65. Andric scored down low but Galatasaray kept collecting loose ball fouls while being in the penalty. Goss hit free throws and a jumper by Thompson made it a two-point game, 66-68. A free throw by Aldemir fixed the score at 66-69 after 30 minutes.
Ozer buried his third triple early in the fourth quarter to boost his team's lead to 66-72. Galatasaray kept excelling in defense and controlled the game tempo with Arslan and Tutku Acik together on court. Andric scored down low but a three-point play by Thompson gave Asvel some hope at 69-74. Lakovic buried his fifth three-pointer, however, and a fast break dunk by Gordon soon gave Galatasaray its first double-digit lead, 69-79. Jackson scored in transition but Ozer answered from downtown for a 71-82 Galatasaray lead. Bangaly Fofana scored around the basket and Thompson struck from downtown for a 76-84 Asvel deficit. Another basket by Fofana forced Galatasaray to call timeout, 78-84, with 3:06 left. Thompson scored off a steal but Lakovic beat the shot clock buzzer with a wild three-pointer. Asvel kept trying but Galatasaray had cruised to an well-deserved win.
Saturday, October 1, 2011