Beşiktaş one victory away from final

Beşiktaş one victory away from final

Beşiktaş one victory away from final

Beşiktaş Milangaz forward Pops Mensah-Bonsu (44) tries to score a basket against Galatasaray Medical Park center Luksa Andric (L) during the two teams’ playoff match. AA photo

Beşiktaş Milangaz stands just one win away from advancing to the Beko Turkish Basketball League (TBL) finals when it takes on Galatasaray Medical Park tonight.

The Black Eagles host their Istanbul rivals at the Sinan Erdem Dome at 8 p.m. They have a 2-1 series lead in the two teams’ best-of-five semifinal series.

Beşiktaş Milangaz bounced back after losing the first game of the series and stole the home-court advantage from Galatasaray with an away win last week. It now has the chance to close out the series in front of its fans, but coach Ergin Ataman refuses to declare the series over.

“Right now we are only 2-1 ahead,” Ataman said during the post-game conference after a 74-65 win over Galatasaray Medical Park on May 20. “Of course, playing another game here on our home court is an advantage, but nothing is finished yet. We have another win to get before the finals.”

On May 20, David Hawkins led all scorers with 21 points for Beşiktaş, who used a strong start to lead the game until the end. Boris Savovic and Nihad Dedovic both had 16 points for Galatasaray, who struggled to find rhythm at the offensive end of the court.

“What we had to do was try and take them out of their offensive routine,” Ataman said. “We had the control over the game from the start to the finish. We won the game with our defensive success.”

Beşiktaş Milangaz played its regular season games at its own 3,200-seat Milangaz Arena throughout the season, but it has switched to the 16,000-seat Sinan Erdem Dome for the series. The decision paid off with boisterous support from a sold-out crowd of Beşiktaş fans at the Turkish national team’s home court in Istanbul.

“We did not confine that series to Akatlar [Milangaz Arena]; we could have had bigger pressure there as well,” Ataman said. “The tickets for that game were sold out three days before the match. Tuesday’s matches are coming close to selling out. The atmosphere they created played a huge part [in our win]. There was huge pressure on Galatasaray Medical Park. They could not play the same way as they did at the Abdi İpekçi Arena. That was a historic atmosphere for Turkish basketball.”

Galatasaray coach Oktay Mahmuti is aware that his team cannot afford another defeat.

“Now Beşiktaş has the advantage in the series,” he said. “We will try as hard as we can to win the game. It will be a make-or-break kind of game.”