ESRA – Best eight meet in second-leg of playoffs in wake of Soma tragedy

Best eight meet in second-leg of playoffs in wake of Soma tragedyBeIiktaI Integral Forex welcomes Galatasaray Liv Hospital in one of the critical matchups of the quarterfinal playoffs in the men’s Beko Turkish Basketball League (TBL) on Saturday, as the second-leg matches are set to be played on Friday and Saturday.The return matches have been postponed following a tragic mine blast that claimed the lives of nearly 300 people in the western Turkish district of Soma, with three days of national mourning having been declared on Wednesday.In the wake of the deeply saddening incident, the playoffs will resume with the UIak Sportif-Fenerbahe ulker match. PInar KarIIyaka entertains Anadolu Efes on the same day. On Saturday, TofaI hosts the regular season’s leader, Banvit, in addition to the only derby of the playoffs.In one of the most entertaining meetings of the playoffs, BeIiktaI will try to capitalize on its 1-0 aantage and win the game in front of its home crowd to make it to the semifinals. The Istanbul club edged its Euroleague-weary opponent Galatasaray 72-70 on the road with a stunning comeback on Tuesday. Galatasaray is one of the strongest contenders for the domestic trophy, and it made a splash by playing in the quarterfinals of the big-time Euroleague this season.American guard Chris Lofton made a huge difference for BeIiktaI on the court in the first-leg match. He netted 24 points to undermine the Galatasaray defense, burying twice from downtown to give his side the upper hand for the first time with slightly more than one minute left. His performance and the ability of Galatasaray’s defense to stop him are likely to determine the outcome on Saturday.Bosnian power forward Kenan Bajramovic and Croatian center Tomislav Ruzic, the other two players to score in double digit numbers, will be other key players for coach Ahmet Kandemir against Galatasaray.Veteran playmaker Carlos Arroyo was of little help to Galatasaray in the first leg, as Serbian power forward Zoran Erceg and Turkish small forward Cenk Akyol shouldered the roles of scorers. Thus coach Ergin Ataman took him off the game in the final minutes. When Arroyo is in a good mood, Galatasaray is usually unstoppable, and the team will need him a lot in their tough game on the road.In another Saturday match, last season’s runner-up Banvit is set to face TofaI, aiming to clinch the second victory and earn a ticket for the semifinals. Dominican-American small forward Sammy Mejia shone with 27 points as Banvit defeated TofaI 82-78 in the first leg. Mejia will be the key to the upper phase for Banvit, which aims to conclude an epic season with the trophy.On Friday, legendary coach Zeljko Obradovic’s Fenerbahe heads to UIak, hoping to seal the deal. The Istanbul powerhouse beat UIak 87-75 in their surprising thriller on Monday as the western Turkish club showed it could actually threaten Fenerbahe. UIak coach Ozan Bulkaz said after the first match that they aim to level the series and come back to Istanbul to play the tiebreaker. Obradovic will rely on guard Bojan Bogdanovic, point guard Bo McCalebb and Nemanja Bjelica on Friday to avoid any surprises.Elsewhere, Anadolu Efes will face PInar KarIIyaka on the road. Efes went up 1-0, beating the Izmir side 96-90 with high-percentage shots on Monday. The Istanbul club is likely to face a tough one in Izmir, as KarIIyaka’s devoted fans will make the job of the guest team difficult. Coach Vangelis Angelou will hope that his men will maintain momentum on the road and achieve high-percentage shots in the second leg. Montenegrin power forward Milko Bjelica along with other stars Dusko Savanovic, Jamon Lucas and DoIuI Balbay will be the strongest hand for Angelou.

SOURCE: Today Zaman

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