|Isil Alben and Galatasaray odeabank take the important first game in the series against Avenida|
The Istanbul heavyweights enjoyed a rapid-fire start and looked set to blow the visitors away, but Avenida showed real determination to revive their fortunes and made life difficult.
With an unconvincing record on the road, a 15-2 start by the home side looked to be condemning Avenida to another defeat on their travels and whilst that is how it eventually panned out, it wasn't plain sailing for Galatasaray.
Avenida overcame their nightmare opening and slowly but surely, established a foothold in the game via Eshaya Murphy, with the swingman scoring 23 points against her former team.
Such was the extent of the revival from the Spanish club, that they left the home supporters stunned when they firstly recovered and then even took a shock 47-46, through Murphy, who completed a 9-0 burst in the third quarter.
It jolted Galatasaray back into life and they registered what proved to be a game-winning 17-4 run either side of the third and fourth quarter break.
This knocked the stuffing out of Avenida and whilst they trimmed the deficit to six points with three minutes remaining after a triple by Marta Xargay, Galatasary held firm down the stretch.
Forward Sancho Lyttle had 13 points, nine rebounds and a superb seven steala against her ex-employers.
Ekrem Memnun, Galatasaray odeabank:
“We are happy that we managed to win the first match of this series. We want to win the next game as well and confirm our spot in the next round. We had full control of the game in the first half. We could have scored even more. In the beginning of the thırd period we made many turnovers, it helped them to come back to the game. Tomorrow we will fly to Spain, have a day off and then start getting ready for Friday’s match. It will be a real test for us. We will try to avoid simple errors and win that match. We have the advantage but we will try our best to not have to return for a third match in Istanbul.”
Kelsey Bone, Galatasaray odeabank:
“We wanted to protect our home court advantage. We won today and we are so happy that we achieved our goal.”
Victor Lapena, Perfumerias Avenida coach:
“Our players fought in the game and until the end. I'm proud of my team because of that. From time to time we took great shots. We want to win on Friday and take that trip to Istanbul again next Wednesday.”
Eshaya Murphy, Perfumerias Avenida:
“I want to congratulate Galatasaray. They're a really good team. We wanted to keep the game close here and I think we made it. We fought for the entire game and that was the thing. We want to even the series on Friday.”