The Demon Astronauts Amsterdam scraped their way into the FIBA Europe League play-offs Tuesday evening following a tough display against Tuborg Telekom Izmir.
Tuborg, who had not lost in the competition since November 2004, were hampered by a nightmare journey to Amsterdam. Their original flight was cancelled due to heavy snow in Turkey and they were forced to arrive in Amsterdam on the same day of the game.
The travel weary visitors showed signs of fatigue at the start of the game and after 13 minutes, Amsterdam led by 9 points, 29-20.
Amsterdam's strength on the boards (they outrebounded Tuborg 42-32) allowed them to stay ahead, but Tuborg began to creep back into the contest.
By the fourth quarter the game was neck-and-neck and a 3-point play by Tuborg's Alex Jensen tied the score at 61-61 with just over two minutes remaining.
Amsterdam replied with a huge three-pointer from Latvian forward Dainis Obersats and regained the lead at 64-61.
A lay-up by Tuborg center Asim Pars cut the advantage to one point, and when Amsterdam point guard Teddy Gipson turned the ball over, Tuborg were given another chance to claim victory at the death.
But Teo Cizmic's three-point attempt fell short, and Gipson made good for his error, draining two free throws to give Amsterdam a three-point cushion which was enough for them to take the game.
Gipson, who led the FIBA Europe League in scoring at the start of the season, top scored for Amsterdam with 15 points, although he struggled with his shooting (4/16 from the field).
Niels Meijer added seasons highs in scoring (14 points) and rebounds (9 rebounds).
Arik Shivek, Head Coach Demon Astronauts:
"Before the game we knew that we could beat Tuborg, and that we had a change to qualify for the next round. We started with good defence and we took the lead. We played as a strong team, a real team. That's why we stayed focus in the last minutes."
Mete Babaoglu, Head Coach Tuborg:
"We are very disappointed with the loss. We could have won this game if we had made some easy lay-ups. Demon played as a team."