ESRA – Galatasaray makes impossible possible to reach Top 16

Galatasaray makes impossible possible to reach Top 16Ergin Atamanandrsquos Galatasaray made its way to the Top 16 of the Euroleague amidst a crisis with a 79-74 win over Greek powerhouse Olympiacos Piraeus behind closed doors in Istanbul on Thursday evening. Elsewhere, Anadolu Efes lost 90-70 to Real Madrid on the road to finish Group A as runner-up on Thursday.

It was the third time that Galatasaray reached the Top 16 in the last four years. The Istanbul club should also thank Valencia Basket for thrashing Neptunas Klaipeda at home to take the Lithuanians out of the picture in Group D, paving the way for Atamanandrsquos side to go through.

Galatasaray had to battle major troubles: A penalty of playing behind closed doors because of the tragic death of a Serbian fan ahead of a Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade match, financial problems that have led to the departure of several key players and injury to the sideandrsquos top scorer, Zoran Erceg. Ataman had just seven players to work everything out against Olympiacos however, his side produced no excuses to stun the Greeks.

andldquoWe took a risk. Some players were used until the end.

Arroyo played 50 minutes in the Zvezda match. Olympiacos is a contender for the Final Four [of the Euroleague] and it was important to beat them,andrdquo Ataman told the broadcaster after the match.

He admitted that the night could have been disastrous for his team but they made the right moves at the beginning of the match to boost self-confidence, which brought the important victory eventually. For the future, Ataman noted that he hopes to acquire two more players during the transfer window to get a more comfortable rotation.

Galatasaray will face Zvezda once again in its Top 16 group and a tense game is awaited. Ataman said he may choose not to head to Serbia for the road game if the authorities of both nations suggest so.

On the court at Abdi Ipeki Arena, Puerto Rican guard Carlos Arroyo paced Galatasaray with 24 points. US center Patric Young nailed 13 points plus 13 rebounds.

Galatasaray had a storming start with an 11-0 run but could only edge the visiting side 20-18 in the first quarter The hosts finished the quarter with no rotation of players. Arroyo fired in one from downtown to bring the score to 27-22 while Tremmell Darden hit an equalizer and later a Kostas Sloukas layup handed Olympiacos the aantage for the first time halfway through the second quarter: 29-27.

The visitors took a 38-36 lead at halftime. Atamanandrsquos team started the second half with a 7-0 run and reclaimed the lead by the halfway point on the quarter: 48-42.

Olympiacos answered with a 5-0 run. The hosts acquired a seven-point margin, 57-50, going into the last 10 minutes.

In the final quarter, the Greeks came close to catch the hosts but Arroyo continued to shine and Galatasaray reached a historic 79-74 victory.In Madrid, Efes faltered in its campaign to get the top spot of Group A after a 90-70 rout by Real Madrid.

There was a close competition in the first half as the first quarter ended 25-25 and Madrid was up 47-43 at halftime. The hosts led the third quarter 69-61 and eventually claimed a 90-70 win.

Ioannis Bourousis scored 19 points for Madrid. Stratos Perperoglou and Dario Saric each netted 11 in defeat.

Efes coach Dusan Ivkovic said after the match that it was a difficult night and they need to prepare well for the Top 16 encounters.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman