Galatasaray trails Barça 1-0 going into playoffs Game 2

ISTANBUL (CIHAN)- Galatasaray Liv Hospital returns to Palau Blaugrana sports hall for Game 2 of the best-of-five playoffs series in the men’s Euroleague against Barcelona on Thursday, trailing the Catalans 1-0 after it was beaten 88-61 in Game 1 at the same venue on Tuesday evening.

There are doubts whether Galatasaray’s Puerto Rican point guard Carlos Arroyo will be fit to play on Thursday after limping off injured before halftime on Tuesday.

There were two different Galatasarays on the court: before and after Arroyo. The Istanbul side was leading almost throughout the first half at Palau Blaugrana on Tuesday, and Barcelona only got its first lead after Arroyo’s injury, underlining how important this player is for Galatasaray.

However, Galatasaray head coach Ergin Ataman hopes Arroyo will be back for the second match of the series. Arroyo’s condition was not clear after the game, and he was due to undergo an MRI to find out. The Puerto Rican has been one of Ataman’s most important keys in Euroleague this season. He is the top scorer, assist and turnover leader of his team. He is also one of those players who have stayed the longest on the court.

Galatasaray had a storming start in the game with a 9-0 run. Navarro came from the bench to fire up his team, but led by Arroyo Galatasaray dominated the first quarter 21-14. The guests slowed down offensively in the second quarter as Barcelona reduced the nine-point deficit. Although the Spaniards took a single point aantage later, Ender Aslan’s three-pointer gave Galatasaray a 35-33 edge into halftime. In the final minutes of the half, Arroyo was injured and left the court.

After Arroyo’s departure, the hosts got the upper hand and dominated the rest of the match. Barcelona was up 59-49 at the end of the third quarter. With Brad Oleson’s points, the margin grew wide open and reached 20 in the fourth quarter. Galatasaray was simply not strong enough in the final minutes to turn the tables and snatch a road win as Barcelona wrapped up the game 88-61.

Pops Mensah-Bonsu played for a short time in the first match after returning from an injury, and he might see more playing time on the court on Thursday. Galatasaray guards Manuchar Markoishvili and Sinan Guler will have to stop Nachbar and Juan Carlos Navarro to have a chance to level the playoff series. The Istanbul club will need Aldemir and Erceg’s rebound skills in this important matchup.

Galatasaray made its debut appearance in the quarterfinals of the competition this season and surprised the pundits. Coach Ataman spoke modestly during the group stage, but apparently he had boosted the faith of his players. He said before the playoff series kicked off that his side is not intimidated by any teams in the quarterfinals and that they aim to make their way to the Final Four.

Bostjan Nachbar netted 19 points to lead his side to victory while four other Barcelona players scored in the double digits. Arroyo became the top scorer for Galatasaray with 14 despite missing the second half entirely. He was the only one in his team to reach double-digit figures. Furkan Aldemir and Ender Arslan added nine points each in defeat.

Real Madrid, the other Spanish team in the playoffs, also won on Tuesday. In a rematch of last year’s Euroleague championship, Real Madrid overcame a strong charge from reigning champion Olympiakos Piraeus in Madrid before winning 88-71.

(CihanToday’s Zaman)