|Rares Mandache had 14 points and seven assists to lead Medias past Group I leaders Karsiyaka|
Gaz Metan Medias produced the big upset of the EuroChallenge Last 16 on Tuesday, by handing Pinar Karsiyaka their first defeat in the Last 16 of the competition, 77-69.
The Romanian side did not make up for the point differential in the 89-59 loss they had suffered in the reverse fixture in Turkey, on the opening day of Last 16, and did not knock Karsiyaka off the top of Group I standings.
The Turkish side is still in first place with a 3-1 record while Medias and BK Ventspils, who beat Joensuun Kataja 75-61 in Latvia on Tuesday, are still behind them at 2-2.
The win however has had a ripple effect in Romania, and it made headlines in the sport press on Wednesday morning.
This would be a daily occurrence in a country like Turkey, but in Romania, where basketball is fighting to preserve and expand its niche following, it's a big deal.
Medias' win does not guarantee them a place in the EuroChallenge quarter-final play-offs, but the symbolic value of a victory over a team that is in the top four of the Turkish BEKO Ligi standings, one of the biggest leagues in Europe, is not lost on anyone.
The hosts' head coach, Marcel Tenter, was fully aware of all this on Tuesday night.
"This success is an important event for us at Medias and, not least, for Romanian basketball in general," he said.
He had employed the term 'historic win' after his team routed Estonian side Tartu Rock 81-58 in the Regular Season to secure their passage to the Last 16.
On Wednesday, the Romanian press got excited with Medias -and basketball- once again, presenting the various scenarios that could see them advancing to the Last 16.
Karsiyaka head coach Ufuk Sarica probably does not read the Romanian press, and even if he did, he would not find especially consoling the fact that in all of those scenarios, the Romanians only examine what they need to do to edge out Ventspils and Kataja in the battle for second place, while taking more or less for granted that the Turkish side will, despite Tuesday's result, still take first.
"The important thing is to put this game behind us and if we defeat Ventspils, we can still finish first in the group, which is our aim," he said on Wednesday.
|Karsiyaka head coach Ufuk Sarica hopes his team will get back on the winning track in the upcoming games|
Instead, Sarica right now has to deal with an unprecedented mini-ciris, of the kind that Karsiyaka had not faced all season.
Tuesday night's loss was their second in a row, after falling 77-69 to Fenerbahce in the Turkish Spor Toto Cup quarter-finals, last Thursday.
That result ended an eight-game winning streak for Karsiyaka, and Sarica's main concern currently is to prevent this from turning into a three-game slide, when his team travel to TÜRK Telekom on Saturday, in BEKO Ligi action.
Karsiyaka had had a tiring trip to Medias, with a variety of reasons forcing them to combine three flights and a long bus ride to reach their destination from Eskisehir, where the Turkish Cup Final Eight was hosted, and fatigue can turn into a problem.
"It's like we've been on the road for one and a half months now," Sarica said.
"Ultimately, with our budget, player rotation can not be deep enough and [against Medias] we played really bad for the first time since the beginning of the season."
Tsmoki Minsk and EWE Baskets Oldenburg are in Last 16 Group L, but both must have taken note of Karsiyaka's defeat to Medias on Tuesday.
The German side are in the exact same position Karsiyaka were before the Tuesday game, and can punch their ticket to the play-offs with two weeks to spare if they win in Belarus on Wednesday night, by any margin.
Minsk meanwhile, just like Medias 24 hours ago, are at 1-2 and hope to send shock-waves around the competition by beating a team that last tasted defeat in the EuroChallenge one year ago.
The game in Minsk, which will conclude Last 16 Week 4 action, tips off at 17:00 CET.