|07 May 2012|
BASKETBALL IN EUROPE
|EuroChallenge Final Four MVP Pops Mensah-Bonsu was again in fine fettle as Besiktas Milangaz opened their series with a win|
There's still a long way to go but Besiktas Milangaz fans can be forgiven if they're already dreaming of a prestigious treble.
Winners of the Turkish Cup and the EuroChallenge, the Istanbul outfit is now taking aim at the Beko Basketbol Ligi title and it got off to a good start in the play-offs with a 96-94 overtime triumph against Fenerbahce.
Ergin Ataman's team finished fourth in the regular season and therefore has home-court advantage in the best-of-five series.
Pops Mensah-Bonsu and David Hawkins picked up right where they left off at the Final Four in Debrecen, Hungary, where they provided much of the inspiration for Besiktas.
Mensah-Bonsu, the Final Four MVP, erupted for 24 points and 11 rebounds and Hawkins also poured in 24 while corralling 10 boards.
The two were nowhere near perfect at the free-throw line, however.
Mensah-Bonsu sank just 10 of 15 (66.6%) and Hawkins was worse, making seven of 14 (50%).
Overall, Besiktas were an alarming 28 of 49 at the charity stripe and that's one reason why Ataman described the victory as a "miracle."
Without the home backing in fact, the result could have been very different.
"To our fans, thank you for creating such a beautiful atmosphere and supporting us," Ataman said.
"I congratulate my players because of this struggle."
Carlos Arroyo, the Puerto Rican playmaker, finished with 20 points and four assists and unlike his teammates, he did well at the free-throw line, sinking 10 of 14 (71.4%).
Besiktas won the battle of the boards, 39-28.
The showdown between two talented sides has the look of a series that could go the distance.
"There is a tough game ahead of us," Ataman warned.
Game 2 is at Fenerbahce on Wednesday.
In the other Quarter-Final openers, Galatasaray Medical Park defeated Tofas, 80-66, Banvit downed Aliaga Petkim, 85-66, and Anadolu Efes trounced EuroChallenge outfit Pinar Karsiyaka, 98-79.