BASKETBALL IN EUROPE
|Robert Dixon led the way for Pinar Karsiyaka with 22 points|
Pinar Karsiyaka were announced as hosts of the EuroChallenge Final Four on Wednesday afternoon and then celebrated the occasion in style in the night.
The Izmir-based team took Banvit by storm and clinched a big 73-65 win on the road, which knocked their rivals off the top of the Turkish BEKO Ligi standings for the first time in months.
Fenerbahce Ulker and Galatasaray Medical Park are now joint league leaders with a 20-3 record each, Anadolu Efes and Banvit are tied at 19-4 while Karsiyaka stand at 18-5, five wins clear of sixth-placed Besiktas.
Karsiyaka surprised their hosts on Wednesday by firing on all cylinders on offence and a rock-solid display on defence right from the tip-off, to take a 26-13 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The guests increased the lead to 14 points by the half-time interval and widened the gap to 19 by the end of the third frame, as they only gave up the exact same stingy amount of points to Banvit, 13, in each of the first three quarters in the game.
The hosts finally found their offensive rhythm in the final stanza and outscored Karsiyaka 26-15 in that period, but it was too little too late as the EuroChallenge Final Four hosts were not going to abolish such a huge advantage in just 10 minutes.
Karsiyaka point guard Robert Dixon was the main culprit of Banvit's downfall as he went 4-for-5 from two-point range and 4-for-9 from behind the three-point arc to lead all scorers with 22 points, while he also dished out four assists and grabbed four rebounds.
Power forward William Thomas meanwhile, who was the MVP of the EuroChallenge quarter-final play-offs, extended his outstanding run of form as he contributed 20 points and eight rebounds.
Center Abdul Aminu finished with 14 points and six rebounds, as these three players combined for 77% of the winning side's offensive output.
"We have achieved one of our goals, to claim a major victory against one of the teams in the top four," said Karsiyaka head coach Ufuk Sarica.
"Of course we now have to put this game behind us immediately and focus on Saturday's clash with Galatasaray Medical Park, who are also among the leaders.
"Our aim on Saturday will be exactly the same, to win again against one of the title contenders in the league."
Following the clash in Istanbul with Galatasaray, Karsiyaka will play four more games in the BEKO Ligi before going up against EWE Baskets Oldenburg in the EuroChallenge semi-finals.
|Evgeny Kolesnikov made 6-of-7 from the field on his way to 13 points |
PACIFIC OCEAN RATTLES KRASNYE KRYLIA SHIP
Krasnye Krylia travelled to the easternmost point of Russia, the city of Vladivostok, on Thursday evening (local time) and the site of the Pacific Ocean had an unsettling effect on Sergey Bazarevich's team.
The EuroChallenge semi-finalists fell 84-72 to their hosts Spartak Primorye in Russian PBL action and dropped to a 6-6 record in the domestic league standings.
The Samara outfit started well and took a 22-17 lead after the first quarter, but gradually started to show signs of fatigue while Spartak picked up the tempo.
Krasnye Krylia did not lose the battle of the boards or commit more turnovers than their hosts but were outscored 43-32 in the second half mainly because of poor shooting, as they hit 45% of their shots from two-point range and only 29% from three-point range.
Chester Simmons led all Samara scorers with 14 points but on 6-for-14 shooting from the floor, while Andre Smith and Evgeny Kolesnikov had 13 points each in defeat.
Krasnye Krylia's next game in their domestic league is again on the road, next Tuesday against Nizhniy Novgorod.
The Russian side face French league leaders BCM Gravelines Dunkerque in the first semi-final of the EuroChallenge Final Four on 26 April.