|Former Fenerbahce player Baris Ermis has proven to be a great signing for Gaziantep, leading the team with a 23-point, 10-assist double-double|
Royal Hali Gaziantep took sole possession of first place in Group K of the EuroChallenge with a 78-74 victory at Triumph Lyubertsy Moscow Region.
Baris Ermis collected 23 points, 10 assists, four steals and three rebounds to lead Gaziantep, who improved to 2-0 in the group.
Dejan Borovnjak added 17 points and Mutlu Akpinar had 10 in the win.
Lyubertsy dropped to 1-1 despite 21 points from Courdon Higgins, 17 from Milovan Rakovic and 14 by Kyle Landry.
Gaziantep opened a 14-6 lead before Triumph answered with a 12-0 run to close the first quarter ahead 18-14.
The surge extended to 18-2 as Lyubertsy led 24-16. The hosts fell behind 31-30 but were up 38-37 at intermission.
Lyubertsy pushed the lead out to six points in the third quarter but were only up 56-55 after 30 minutes.
Ermis spurred on the guests in building a 70-62 cushion with three minutes left. But four straight scoreless possessions allowed Lyubertsy to knot the game at 70-70 with 67 seconds left.
Ermis finally scored again for Gaziantep and Ernest Bremer made two free throws with 15 seconds remaining for a 74-71 lead. Ermis made all four of his foul shots in the final nine seconds to secure the win.
Triumph Head Coach Vasiliy Karasev
„We lost tonight because of our own mistakes. When we were leading by about eight points, we made a few hasty attacks; we didn't play well enough in defence. In the key moment of the game [Dmitry] Kulagin lost the ball, [Milovan] Rakovic missed from the paint and Gaziantep scored two treys in a row. We had very tough last three games, and now my team isn't in good conditions after the hard road games and long trips, so I think that our tiredness was the reason for our mistakes."
Triumph Player Milovan Rakovic
"It's not only about the end of the game; it started from the very beginning. During the game we had problems; we had to play more disciplined defence, of course. Gaziantep was luckier tonight.
We had a couple of hard trips and it influenced our game. We were supposed to win this game, and we lost because of our mistakes and not because of their quality. That's my opinion. And now we have to win the game in Turkey, we have to take the revenge."
Gaziantep Head Coach Jurij Zdovc
"I know Triumph and Vasiliy Karasev very well, we played against each other in the last two seasons when I coached Spartak in Russia. Triumph has a very good team, good players, they have all to win games, and tonight they fought till the end. We had the last week without games in the national championship because of the All Star Game, we were fresher than our opponents and I think that it helped us a lot. But Triumph caught us twice, we didn't panic, we stopped the ball, we controlled the game and we were luckier in the end. But we deserved this win."
Gaziantep Player Dejan Borovnjak
"The team's desire helped us to win today. We are in a good period of the season, we fight for each other, we improved some things in defence in the last quarter, we put everything on the floor tonight and I think that we deserved the win today. We were up by eight points at the end and we relaxed a little bit and let Triumph score some easy baskets, some free throws and this is what we have to improve and I hope that in the future this will be better."