| Galatasaray took a step closer to the Turkish Airlines Euroleague by opening the qualifying rounds with a commanding 64-77 victory over PAOK on Friday in Vilnius, Lithuania. Galatasaray will play the winner of the French showdown between Asvel and Gravelines later on Friday in the weekend semifinal less than 24 hours later. Jamon Lucas scored 18 of his 21 points after halftime to lead the winners. Luksa Andric added 15 and Ender Arslan 14, while youngster Furkan Aldemir debuted with 11 points and 9 rebounds in 19 minutes. Arslan's three-pointers to end the first half and start the second proved important, as PAOK never led after that. PAOK got 17 points from Marcus Goree, 16 from Ioannis Kalampokis, 11 from Rashad Wright and 10 from Dimos Dikoudis, but was hurt by 18 turnovers. After the loss, PAOK will now play in the 2011-12 Eurocup starting in November.
Andric scored inside before his steal led to a fastbreak layup by Shipp and a 0-4 lead for Galatasaray, which pressured the ball to no avail, as the recently-arrived Goree quickly tied for PAOK. Dikoudis raced coast to coast for PAOK's first lead, 6-4. Galatasaray soon got it back, however, as Jaka Lakovic hit technical free throws charged to Dikoudis. Galatasaray threatened to run away at 6-11, but after a timeout, PAOK got back-to-back triples by Wright and Goree. PAOK's run ended at 10-1 for a 16-12 lead when Tutku Acik pumped from downtown for Galatasaray. Goree's free throws, giving him 9 points already, left PAOK up 18-15 after 10 minutes.
Galatasaray struck back quickly, scoring the second quarter's first 6 points between Aldemir and Preston Shumpert to lead 18-21. Goree re-started PAOK's offense with a long two-pointer then detonated a huge go-ahead dunk on a great feed from Wright. Back and forth they went, with Lucas reclaiming the lead for Galatasaray, as Niko Kalles did for PAOK. Andric scored 8 points in a row for Galatasaray that Kalampokis and Dikoudis answered with twin triples. But a turnover with 3.6 seconds left allowed Acik and Ender Arslan to execute a great play for a buzzer-beating triple that gave Galatasaray a 32-34 halftime lead.
Arslan started the second half as he ended the first, drilling from long range, and with Darius Songaila's jump hook, Galatasaray suddenly led 34-39. Wright scored a third-chance basket to get PAOK closer before Arslan shot off one foot in response. The lead was 38-43 before Dante Stiggers cut it with a smooth triple, but Aldemir matched it with a rolling basket-plus-free throw. Soon, Galatasaray's lead was up to 43-50 on free throws by Songaila as PAOK looked a step behind. Arslan boosted the lead into double digits, 43-54, with 4 perfect free throws before Kalampokis answered with a straight-on three-pointer, which he repeated to end the third quarter, but it was only enough to cut Galatasaray's lead to 51-60.
Galatasaray came out strong with consecutive baskets by Lucas to boost the gap to 53-64. Goree cut into that difference with a short shot, but Lucas kept his team rolling with a three-point shot now. Even when Dikoudis matched that with a put-back and free throw, time was running short on PAOK, down 56-67 with under 6 minutes left. And when Gordon scored acrobatically between two defenders, Galatasaray seemed blessed. Kalampokis got 3 points back from the corner for PAOK, but Lucas was unstoppable and assured his team would move a step forward in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Qualifying Rounds.
Friday, September 30, 2011