Beşiktaş claims basketball title
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Beşiktaş Milangaz players celebrate after clinching the Beko Baskteball League title following a 80-76 victory over Anadolu Efes. The Istanbul club won the best-of-seven finals series 4-2 while Anadolu Efes players failed to appear to receive their second-place medals. AA photo
Beşiktaş Milangaz won its first Turkish championshipin 37 years after edging Anadolu Efes 80-76 at Abdi İpekçi Sports Hall on June 11 to claim the best-of-seven finals 4-2.
The Beko Basketball League title came as quite a surprise for the Istanbul club in a season marred with financial troubles and a European competition ban imposed on its football team for violating financial fair play rules.
Carlos Arroyo starred with 18 points and eight assists, while Erwin Dudley and Zoran Erceg added 15 points apiece to pace the winners, who celebrated with passion after the final buzzer.
Anadolu Efes players failed to appear to receive their second-place medals, while Captain Kerem Tunçeri was alone on the court to receive the runner-up trophy.
The game was close down the stretch and Efes had a shot to tie it, but missed, allowing Dudley to seal the win from the line. Pops Mensah-Bonsu added 10 points and eight rebounds, while David Hawkins tallied 10 points and eight assists for the winners. Tunçeri led Efes with 22 points, followed by Oliver Lafayette with 13 and Kerem Gönlüm with 10 in defeat.
Beşiktaş coach Ergin Ataman told reporters on the court after the game that a historical season was over.
“It has been a very difficult season; I congratulate my players who put in a great fight since the first day. We are now a part of Beşiktaş history and Turkish basketball history. I call on millions of Beşiktaş supporters to celebrate this great achievement,” said Ataman, recalling that Beşiktaş Milangaz completed the season with three trophies, including the Turkish Cup and Eurochallenge.
Ataman, however, did challenge the club administration to outline its plans for next season as soon as possible, especially in the wake of the club’s financial issues.
“If they want to keep this team, they should inform us about the plans as of tomorrow,” the successful coach said. “If the club will continue dealing with major financial problems, I will not be here. The ball is now in the administration’s and chairman’s court.”
Efes started well and held Beşiktaş without a basket for more than three minutes, but a Hawkins three-pointer evened the game at 8-8 midway through the opening quarter. The score remained tight and Arroyo lifted the hosts to their first lead, 20-18, with a three-pointer at the end of the first quarter.
Beşiktaş then held slim leads through much of the second quarter and reached the break leading 40-39 on a Dudley basket in the last second of the half. Lafayette tied the game with a triple and then gave Efes its first lead of the second half, 46-44.
After multiple lead changes, a Tunçeri triple left the teams all square at 61-61 through three quarters. The fourth quarter featured six lead changes and two ties with neither team taking a lead of more than three until Beşiktaş’s Serhat Çetin nailed a clutch three-pointer with just over two minutes remaining that made it 74-69.
A Tunçeri three-pointer gave Efes hope at 78-76 with nine seconds to go. Efes sent Çetin to the line, but he made only one, which left Efes a chance to tie it. However after a timeout, Sasha Vujacic forced a shot from the corner and missed, setting the stage for Dudley’s free throw with six seconds remaining to cap the victory.