Gailius, Shakur lead Neptunas to fourth win
In a critical battle which went down to the final minutes, Neptunas Klaipeda greatly improved its chances to get to the Top 16 from Group D by downing Galatasaray Liv Hospital Istanbul 82-72 at home on Wednesday. Neptunas recorded its fourth home win in improving to 4-5, while Galatasaray dropped to 3-6. Deividas Gailius paced the winners with 23 points. Mustafa Shakur added 16 while Arnas Butkevicius had 11 for Neptunas. Zoran Erceg led Galatasaray with 24 points and a recovered Vladimir Micov added 12 for the hosts. Gailius and Martynas Mazeika fueled an early 7-0 run that allowed Neptunas to hold on to a 22-18 lead after 10 minutes. Galatasaray tried a tall lineup with Erceg at small forward, which paid off right away. Erceg followed back-to-back triples with a layup to give the guests a 27-28 edge. Butkevicius and an outstanding Gailius helped Neptunas regain the lead, 40-37, at halftime. A 0-6 run that Guler capped with a layup gave Galatasaray a 40-43 edge after the break. Gailius and Valdas Vasylius took over from downtown to make it a nine-point game, but Erceg and Ender Arslan kept the guests within 63-60 through three quarters. A huge dunk by Gailius gave Neptunas a 72-65 margin midway through the fourth quarter and Galatasaray never recovered, allowing Neptunas to celebrate a truly historic win.
First quarter: Early run puts hosts ahead
Sinan Guler got Galatasaray going with a driving layup, which Mustafa Shakur matched with a two-handed slam. Deividas Gailius struck from downtown and a driving basket by Martynas Mazeika gave Neptunas a 7-2 lead. Vladimir Micov made free throws, but a layup by Shakur restored a 9-4 Neptunas edge. Guler kept pacing the guests with a three-point play. Keith Benson made free throws and a fast break layup by Gailius boosted the hosts' lead to 13-7. Zoran Erceg sank foul shots, which Benson erased with a slam. Micov took over with an off-balance basket and bettered Simas Butkevicius's layup in transition with a corner triple to get Galatasaray closer, 17-14. Shakur answered from beyond the arc and a close basket by Donatas Zavackas made it an 8-point game. A layup by Patric Young and a baseline jumper by Erceg brought the guests within 22-18 after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Galatasaray goes big, Neptunas holds on
Ender Arslan hit an off-balance shot early in the quarter, but Valdas Vasylius answered with a power basket. Galatasaray tried a tall lineup with Erceg, Kerem Gonlum and Ian Vougioukas together on court. Butkevicius nailed a three-pointer, which Erceg copied at the other end to make it 27-23. Erceg, comfortable at small forward, stayed on fire with a catch-and-shoot seven-meter bomb and a close basket, which put the guests back ahead, 27-28. After Butkevicius split free throws, Erceg hit his two attempts and Gonlum gave Galatasaray a 28-32 edge. Butkevicius and Carlos Arroyo exchanged three-pointers before a fast break slam by Shakur ignited the crowd at 33-35. Gailius nailed his trademark step-back jumper and matched Arroyo's free throws with another basket that tied it at 37-37. Gailius buried a three-pointer for a 40-37 Neptunas lead at halftime.
Third quarter: Gailius keeps Klaipeda fans happy
Young took over with a big slam immediately after the break and he followed that with an acrobatic basket to put Galatasaray back ahead, 40-41. Guler shined with a wild driving basket, which caused Neptunas to call timeout at 40-43. After Zavackas struck from downtown, Guler scored again in penetration. A layup by Shakur tied it at 45-45. Zavackas kept pushing Neptunas with a layup. Young scored around the basket before Edigijus Dimsa put Neptunas back ahead, 49-47. Gailius nailed a corner triple, as Galatasaray struggled to score. Arslan split free throws and a layup by Benson gave Neptunas fresh air at 54-48. Gailius picked up a loose ball and nailed one from beyond the arc, but Young and Marty Pocius gave the guests hope at 57-52. Gailius buried his fourth triple and Vasylius hit another from the same spot to make it a 9-point game. Erceg and Arslan joined the three-point shootout to bring the visitors within 63-60.
Fourth quarter: Neptunas seals critical victory
Erceg scored in the low post early in the quarter, but Mindaugas Girdziunas matched that with a mid-range jumper and free throws by Butkevicius gave the hosts a 67-62 edge. Erceg fired in a big three-pointer, however Vasylius and Girdziunas made free throws and a huge dunk by Gailius brought the crowd to its feet at 72-65 with less than sven minutes left. Galatasaray could not find answers on offense until Micov shined with a one-handed floater in the lane. Shakur scored in penetration and a tip-in by Simas Galdikas seemed to seal the outcome at 76-67. Erceg made free throws, but he didn't find much help around. Mazeika split foul shots and Shakur beat the shot clock with a wild three-pointer that gave Neptunas its first double-digit lead, 80-69. Galatasaray kept trying, but the Neptunas fans in Klaipeda had plenty of time to celebrate yet another historic win.