|Anthony Gaffney slams one home on Telekom Baskets' home win over Okapi Aalstar|
Telekom Baskets moved clear at the top of Group J in the Last 16 of the EuroChallenge with a 71-63 win over Okapi Aalstar.
Although Okapi made a stronger challenge than was perhaps expected, staying in touching distance until the mid-point of the fourth quarter, Telekom began to ease away down the stretch to improve to 3-1.
Chris Copeland's jump-shot had Okapi within five, 60-55, with 7:32 to go, but Chris Ensminger split a pair of free throws, and then Jared Jordan and Talor Battle made back-to-back baskets to stretch the lead to 10, 65-55.
Kevin Kruger's three-pointer cut the gap, but a free throw from Anthony Gaffney and a hook-shot from Ensminger again gave Telekom breathing space.
Copeland hit a three with 52 seconds left, but time was against them, and a three from Simonas Serapinas effectively settled it 35 seconds from time.
Benas Veikalas led Telekom with 15 points while Serapinas and Jordan had 12 each, with Jordan also handing out 10 assists.
Gaffney also scored in double figures with 10 points.
Christopher Young led Okapi with 16 points and eight rebounds, while Copeland had 14 points and Kruger 12.
Okapi Aalstar head coach Brad Dean
"At the end we did what we had to do: not to lose the game too high. But to be honest: I think that will not help us because the Hungarian team from Szolnok will also come to three wins. Either Szolnoki or Bonn have to win the last two games to give us a chance to reach the Quarter-Finals."
Okapi Aalstar player Kevin Kruger
"After we had a very bad first quarter we battled for our defense. 71 points on the road for the home team is not too bad, so I am proud of our guys. We have to take this over to the Belgian league."
Telekom Baskets Bonn head coach Michael Koch
"I think we played very well tonight. It was our goal to win the game not to focus on the direct comparison because we lost with 12 points in Belgium. It was not enough at the end but it was the first time in the last weeks we won a game because of our defense. We played with a lot of intensity and that is the reason why Okapi did not find the way into the game."
Telekom Baskets Bonn player Tony Gaffney
"For the last few days in practice we focused on our defense. I think we came out tonight following our game plan for 40 minutes. It is a big win in the EuroChallenge. We are now top of the group and have a good chance going forward to the next round."