Hosts CSU Asesoft Ploiesti got a heroes’ welcome this evening as they played the second FIBA Europe Cup Men Semi-Final to a sell-out crowd in the Ploiesti Olimpia arena. The 3,000 seater gym was packed to the rafters 2 hours before tip-off and another 2,000 fans watched on a big screen outside in the car-park. Ploiesti didn’t disappoint.
|Catalin Burlacu (CSU Asesoft Ploiesti)|
Banvit’s Turgay Cataloluk and Mehmet Görkem were able to keep the visitors close in the game for the first quarter, thanks to hot outside shooting, however a series of steals and fast breaks early in the second period from Ploiesti’s Helcioiu and Vladimir Kuzmanovic created the first gap which then kept on growing.
With four minutes played in the second period, Asesoft had taken an 11-point advantage which was stretched to 17 by half-time. Kuzmanovic’s sweet outside jumpers and Catalin Burlacu’s inside play had the guests reeling in defence. The Turkish offence failed to hit on target and often lacked organisation despite coach Tab Baldwin’s efforts.
In the first half, Banvit’s George Banks had a miserable time, shooting 20% from the field and 38% from the free-throw line. In comparison, Helcioiu had 20 points in 20 minutes.
|George Paul Helcioiu had 24 points for Ploiesti|
Two crucial three-pointers from Krasic and Helcioiu put the hosts back on track but again Banvit were quick to answer. Cataloluk hit a quick three with the next offence and then so did Banks.
Back down the floor, another 3-pointer from Burlacu had the crowd jumping in the stands, however, Banks, now having woken up, replied again by going to hoop and pulling the foul. He hit the two free throws and on the next defence picked a steal to run the fast-break, finishing with a dunk. Another three-pointer, this time from the hands of Ivan Krasic, handed the hosts a 14 point advantage going into the final period: 47-61.
Five quick points in succession from Kuzmanovic in the two minutes of the fourth quarter seemed to seal victory for Ploiesti as their lead stretched to 48-69, however, once again the home side completely lost concentration and and allowed the Turks back into the game.
With five minutes left on the clock, Banvit were back within 11. Only another cool-headed 3-pointer from Kuzmanovic broke the Turkish run and gave the home team some breathing space again.
Ploiesti switched to zone defence in the final minutes which effectively killed Banvit’s hopes: another series of fast-breaks and the second place in the Final was secured. Asesoft wins 69-83.
Paul Helcioiu led Ploiesti with 24 points, backed up by Catalin Burlacu and Valdimir Kuzmanovic who both had 16.
After a dire first half, George Banks finished with 24 points and 8 rebounds for Banvit. He was the only player from the Turkish side to score in double figures.