|Robert Dixon is Karsiyaka's go-to-guy, even more so now with the team missing several players|
An injury-depleted Pinar Karsiyaka fought to the last man on Monday night in Istanbul but fell 78-76 to Turkish BEKO Ligi leaders Fenerbahce Ulker in a dramatic encounter that could have gone either way.
The result leaves the EuroChallenge quarter-finalists tied with Anadolu Efes in fourth place on the domestic league table, with a 16-4 record, while Fener continue tied at the top with Banvit, at 18-2.
Playing without the sidelined wingers Jon Diebler, Caner Topaloglu and Can Mutaf, Karsiyaka's options on the perimeter were considerably thin but they still managed to enter the last quarter tied with their hosts, at 57-57.
It is hardly a coincidence that Fener edged out their guests thanks to big performances by their own backcourt players.
F.Y.R. of Macedonia point guard Bo McCalebb finished with 17 points and four assists, Croatian international Bojan Bogdanovic had 15 points and five assists while Turkish international Emir Preldzic chipped in with 12 points and five assists.
For Karsiyaka, point guard Robert Dixon carried a lot of the weight on offence and made seven of his 14 shots from behind the three-point arc to lead all scorers with 29 points, while big man William Thomas collected a double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Karsiyaka head coach Ufuk Sarica thanked his players for their effort but could not help thinking that, in a game that went down to the last shot, absences played a big role.
"We came here with a limited roster, there are three or four games in a row that we have to play with limited rotation," he said.
"We did well in defending the paint but in the end Fener were also luckier.
"I heartily congratulate our players, after that, we might need to work more on management if reinforcements are required, otherwise we'll spend a period of distress."
Small forward Evren Buker echoed the sentiment of his coach by acknowledging that players were a bit tired towards the end, because of the shorter than usual bench.
While Topaloglu and Mutaf are expected to return to action ahead of next week's crucial quarter-final series with Paris Levallois, Diebler's condition is more serious and he will not play again in the EuroChallenge, unless Karsiyaka reach the Final Four.
|Paris Levallois head coach Christophe Denis will hope to welcome back injured Jawad Williams for the EuroChallenge quarter-finals|
SHORTHANDED PARIS FACE COUPE DE FRANCE CLASH
When Paris coach Christophe Denis shakes hands with his opposite number Sarica after next Tuesday's first encounter in the play-off series between the French and the Turkish sides, there will be a moment of silent understanding between the two men.
Paris lost 72-59 at the weekend at Le Mans in French Pro A action, and tiredness played a big role as neither injured power forward Jawad Williams nor new signing Julius Hodge were able to feature in the game.
Denis will take only seven senior team players to Normandy for Tuesday's French Cup Last 16 game at Rouen, and the rest of the squad will be made up of juniors.
The participation of Hodge will be determined only hours before the game as his paperwork has been delayed.
"We need everyone to contribute their grain of sand, or else..." were the cautionary words of Denis, who warned on Monday that March is the decisive period in his team's campaign and the defeat at Le Mans should be their last one this month if they want to achieve their goals.
If they defeat Rouen on Tuesday night, the Parisians will face NM1 (the equivalent of third division) side Sorgues in the Coupe de France quarter-finals.
Paris could be about to receive some good news soon though, as according to a report in L'Equipe, Williams will be available for the play-off series against Karsiyaka, with his recuperation from injury concluding sooner than anticipated.
According to the same report, Williams could make his reappearance as early as next Friday, in the home game against Cholet.