Some of Australia's finest basketball exports were in action again this week in Eurocup and Euroleague. Center Aleks Maric's days in Turkey appear numbered, while once again it was the sharp-shooting Ryan Broekhoff who was leading the Australian charge.
Playing on the road against Group M leader and fellow Turkish side Pinar Karsiyaka Izmir, Besiktas Integral Forex Istanbul faced an uphill battle. That challenge was certainly accepted by their star Australian swingman Ryan Broekhoff who led from the front in delivering a game-high 18 point performance.
Both teams trade blows in a tough first half, with the visitors managing to gain the upper hand at the main break 33-37. Broekhoff connected on three first half triples and was having a major influence on the contest, both teams willing to shoot from long-range.
Broekhoff was again in the thick of the action in the second half, mixing it up with another triple either side of two impressive dunks. Unfortunately for Besiktas the home side powered away in the final quarter to record a 73-64 win. DJ Strawberry was important for the hosts, delivering some key baskets on his way to 17 points. Karsiyaka had 4 players score in double digits, while Besiktas only had two. JaJuan Johnson chipping in 15 points with 9 rebounds in providing good support to Broekhoff who also added 8 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals in the loss.
Besiktas now face a must-win battle in Group M, hosting Paris Levallois. The equation is simple for both sides; the winner will earn second place in the group and take on PGE Turow Zgorzelec in the eighth finals. Broekhoff will need some more support from his team mates back on their home court, especially from Chris Lofton who was electric in Eurocup prior to Christmas.
Spanish side CAI Zaragoza were thrust into a must-win against Cedevita Zagreb at home. After a tense first half, the game became a roller coaster. First it was Cedevita who went on a third quarter 21-1 run to gain control, only to have Zaragoza charge back with a 25-3 avalanche of their own including 17 straight to open the final period.
The game went right down to the wire and was forced into an extra period thanks to a late put-back dunk by Cedevita's Marko Arapovic (7 points). Overtime proved just a thrilling.
With neither team managing to break away, the game remained in the balance. With 11 seconds remaining, Zaragoza's Marcus Landry (9 points) made a tough basket to put the hosts ahead by 1 point. Cedevita with the last possession came up with the heroic ending thanks to Luka Babic's buzzer-beating game-winner and allowing the visitors to prevail 84-85. Babic would finish with 11 points while Miro Bilan led Cedevita with 18.
Australian Boomer Chris Goulding provided 4 points, 3 rebounds and 2 steals in the narrowest of losses. Stevan Jelovac paced the home side with 17 points and 5 rebounds, while former Perth Wildcat Kevin Lisch provided 8 points and 8 assists.
“I don’t know what to say. Just that we are upset because of the game. Being out of the next round this way is tough, very tough. I hope in the future we play like we did in the second half. With that intensity” - Chris Goulding
Now eliminated from being able to progress to the eighth finals, they close out Group I by travelling to Virtus Roma (3-2) who are riding a 7-game winning streak at home and have already booked a berth in the next stage.
Gran Canaria have won 14 of 15 Eurocup games this season thanks to their most recent victory, a 90-74 triumph over Dinamo Sissari. The win came about despite missing their star Australian swingman Brad Newley who remained sidelined due to an ankle injury.
The game was won when Gran Canria unleashed a 32-12 third quarter from which Sissari never recovered. Kyle Kuric led the hosts with a game-high 21 point outing as his side shot a very good 42.9% from beyond the arc and 58.3% from the field.
Given Gran Canaria has already claimed first place in Group H, they can afford t give the injured Brad Newley more time to heal in their final group game at the already-eliminated Buducnost VOLI Podgorica (1-4). The Spanish side will be looking ahead to the eighth finals, where they will host either Virtus Rome or Cedevita Zagreb.
Watch Eurocup action live on Eurosport Australia via Foxtel. Next week’s games being broadcast are as follows (all times AEDST):
Wednesday, 11th February
6:00am LIVE: Limoges CSP (FRA) vs Khimki Moscow Region (RUS)
Thursday, 12th February
3:00am LIVE: Lietuvos Rytas (LTU) vs Telenet Ostend (BEL)
After losing their last 2 games, Galatasaray were desperate to earn a much-needed win against the reigning Euroleague champions Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv. Playing in their home court, it was the visitors that got off to a strong start and gain the early ascendancy thanks to a 9-0 run late in the first period. Galatasaray fought back with a 27-17 second quarter to earn a 5 point half time lead. From There both teams traded blows, with neither being able to break open the contest.
Mid-way through the final quarter, reigning champions looked to have all the momentum when they managed to open up a 10 point lead thanks to some hot-shooting by Sylven Landesberg (14 points). However Galatasaray were not yet done, drawing inspiration from their home crowd to make a thrilling late run. When Zoran Erceg (29 points) got to the free throw line with 4 seconds to go, he tied up the contest by making 1/2 shots that resulted in the game heading to overtime after a half court heave at the buzzer by Maccabi's Jeremy Pargo (17 points) drew iron and narrowly missed.
Overtime proved to be a battle of attrition and it had the fans on the edge of their seats. It came down to the final possession, scores tied and the ball in Pargo's hands for Maccabi. He pulled up for the long three at the buzzer and it sailed in, silencing the crowd and ensuring the visitors came away with a 94-97 win.
Australia's Aleks Maric started but saw little action for the hosts. In 8 minutes, the center provided 2 points, 3 rebounds and 1 assist and provided back up support only. For Galatasaray they are now 2-4 in Group E and battling to remain in contention, while Maccabi sit atop the group with a 5-1 record. Things do not get any easier for Galatasaray either; they next tackle the might of FC Barcelona next week.
Maric's time with Galatasaray however appeared to be numbered. His coach came out on record after their game on the weekend to advise that the Australian center's original 2 month contract was not going to be extended. This will mean the big Aussie, who also spent time with 2014 reigning Euroleague champions Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv this season, will be formally leave the team next week.
@OzBallPnR Galatasaray coach Ergin Ataman said; "We will not make new contract with Aleks Maric." after Eskisehir game.
— yigit (@ryanbroekhoff) February 8, 2015
Maric has primarily been used in a limited capacity as a back-up centre off the bench, with the announcement not necessarily coming as a major surprise given the number of roster changes the embattled club as faced this season. Watch this space.
Watch Euroleague action live on Eurosport Australia via Foxtel. Next week’s games being broadcast are as follows (all times AEDST):
Friday, 13th February
7:00am LIVE: FC Barcelona (ESP) vs Galatasaray Liv Hospital Istanbul (TUR) - featuring Australian Aleks Maric
Saturday, 14th February
4:00am LIVE: CSKA Moscow (RUS) vs Emporio Armani Milan (ITA)
6:45am LIVE: Panathinaikos Athens (GRC) vs Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade (SRB)