Injury-riddled Galatasaray Cafe Crown took the high road into the ULEB Cup elimination rounds from Group C when it outlasted tough CSU Asesoft 72-64 at home in Istanbul on Tuesday. Galatasaray raised its record to 6-3 and is tied with Hemofarm Stada for second place. They face each other in the regular season's final game with the winner finishing second in the group, even though either could still tie leader Akasvayu Girona. Asesoft fell to 3-6 and all but the remotest chances of surviving to the next round. Galatasaray repeatedly made up small deficit's until finally taking and keeping the lead thanks to triples by Murat Kaya and Cenk Akyol in the middle of the final quarter. Dee Brown led the winners with 21 points, while Charles Gaines had 15 and 9 rebounds and Chris Owens scored 14 more. Darius Hargrove put up 15 points for Asesoft, with Rashard Griffith adding 13 and Arvydas Cepulis 12.
Galatasaray started the game three major absences - Tufan Ersoz, Huseyin Besok and Robert Hite - and immediately struggled to score against Asesoft's zone defense. Virgil Carutasu's basket-plus-free throw and Arvydas Cepulis's layup gave Asesoft a 2-5 lead at the start, but soon Brown downed a three-pointer and Gaines put the home team ahead, 7-5 ahead. Brown extended the lead by penetrating into the Asesoft zone again, but with triple by Cepulis in the last minute, the visitors trimmed the difference to 15-13 after a quarter. Asesoft kept its run going to 0-9 and took a 15-19 advantage early in the second quarter as Reggie Elliott, Rashard Griffith and Tomas Gaidamavicius gave the guests their best lead of the first half, 15-19. Galatasaray found 5 points between speedy guards like Cuneyt Erden and Brown to take the lead back at 20-19. Asesoft refused to buckle, especially on defense, and used Bojan Obradovic and Carutasu to hurt Galatasaray inside and lead at the half, 28-30. Galatasaray turned things around after the break, busting loose on an 8-2 run to lead again by 36-32 on a jumper by Cenk Akyol. Asesoft hit back with 8 unanswered points punctuated by triples from Cepulis and Darius Hargrove, whose next shot from downtown meant a 38-43 lead for the guests. Gaines and Brown finished fastbreaks and a triple near quarter's end by Erden let Galatasaray regain a 48-47 advantage after 30 minutes. Brown's triple to start last quarter was met by another 0-7 blast from Asesoft in which Hargrove struck again from deep for a 51-54 scoreboard. Erden tied it up from downtown, getting the Galatasaray fans pumped up for Murat Kaya's go-ahead triple. Soon, Akyol's three-pointer broke another tie and Chris Owens added a basket to it for Galatasaray's biggest lead yet, 64-59. Hargrove made another skillfull layup at 64-61 but then the home team scored the next 6 points, including an alley-oop to Owens, assisted by Brown, and a jumper by Gaines that meant a 70-61 lead and clear sailing to a key victory for Galatasaray.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008