|Petri Virtanen produced a great overall performance of 17 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds to lead his team to victory|
Joensuun Kataja pulled off a stunning comeback to shock Aliaga Petkim in the first leg of their EuroChallenge Qualifying Round tie on Tuesday in Joensuu.
Despite trailing by 17 points nearly six minutes into the third quarter, the Finns prevailed 82-70.
The Turks dominated the boards, out-rebounding Joensuu, 35-20, yet they shot themselves in the foot with a whopping 30 turnovers.
Point guard Branislav Ratkovica and center Torin Francis each turned the ball over six times for Aliaga Petkim and Taquan Dean had five.
Joensuu, coached by Jukka Toijala, closed the gap to 61-50 by the end of the third quarter and then outscored the visitors from Turkey 31-10 in the last frame.
The hosts reeled off the first six points of the fourth quarter but didn't pull even until 4:59 remained in the game when Juho Nenonen split a pair of free-throws.
After Dean buried back-to-back jumpers for Aliaga Petkim for a 68-64 advantage, Jerald Fields dunked and then made two at the charity stripe to tie the game again.
Fields' scoring spurt ignited a 16-0 run that was capped by Jermaine Flowers' two free-throws.
Aliaga Petkim's Torin Francis and Fields then traded baskets for the 82-70 final.
The outcome spoiled what had been another spectacular game for Orhan Haciyeva, the Azerbaijan international who led the EuroBasket Qualification Round in rebounding this summer.
The 2.00m forward had 26 points and 12 rebounds, yet his team must now overcome a 10-point deficit in the second leg if they are to reach the EuroChallenge Regular Season.
For Joensuun Kataja, veteran point guard Petri Virtanen drilled four of eight shots from long range and led the team with 17 points while Fields had 13 and Flowers 10.
The Finns worked for excellent shots and often got to the line where they sank 19 of 23 attempts.