Final 4 dream fades for Turks
ATHENS - Hürriyet Daily News
Galatasaray Medical Park’s Slovenian playmaker Jaka Lakovic (R) scored 12 points against Olympiacos, while Greek guard Vassilis Spanoulis (L) had a night to remember with 20 points and eight rebounds during the two teams’ crucial Euroleague game. AA photoThere will be no Turkish teams at the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four in Istanbul after Galatasaray Medical Park became the country’s third team to bow out of the competition.
Galatasaray Medical Park lost to Olympiacos Piraeus 88-81 on March 1, missing out on a chance to make it to the quarterfinals in the top-level competition in European basketball.
Turkish champion Fenerbahçe Ülker and Anadolu Efes also missed out on the knockout rounds.
“We came here to fight and we tried hard, but it didn’t happen,” Galatasaray Medical Park’s Oktay Mahmuti was quoted as saying on the official Euroleague website. “To be honest, I have nothing to complain about. All the guys gave their best and tried to come back in the game, but it was not easy. The injuries affected us a lot, but that’s life. Now the game is over but I am very proud for my team and we have a lot of benefits from our participation.”
Vassilis Spanoulis dominated the game with 20 points, eight assists and four steals to lead the Reds to victory. The Reds improved to 3-3 and finished in second place in the group over Galatasaray on a tiebreaker.
Olympiacos will next face Italian champion Montepaschi Siena in the best-of-five playoffs.
CSKA Moscow, winner of Group E, which also featured Galatasaray Medical Park and Anadolu Efes, will meet surprise-package Gescrap Bizkaia Bilbao.
Group G winner Panathinaikos will meet Israel’s Maccabi Electra while Group H winner Barcelona Regal will take on Unics of Russia.
That will make two teams from Greece, Russia and Spain each, while Turkey, the home of the Final Four, will not be represented in the knockout rounds.
On March 1, Olympiacos led from start to finish after opening the game with a 7-0 run.
It was 24-14 after 10 minutes and 43-35 at halftime. The hosts went ahead 11 early in the third quarter. Jaka Lakovic scored eight points in a 10-0 burst as Galatasaray closed the gap to one, but the Reds wasted no time as Georgios Printezis and Acie Law combined for the next 10 points to put the Reds back in control.
Printezis added 16 points and Law scored 14 for the Reds, while Luksa Andric led six Galatasaray scorers in double figures with 15 points. Jamon Lucas scored 13 before leaving with an injury.
Boasting a comparably lower budget than its Istanbul rivals, Fenerbahçe Ülker and Anadolu Efes, Galatasaray had a season that was beyond expectations. The Lions overcame a qualifying round to advance to the Euroleague and managed to survive the regular season in its first Euroleague campaign.
“We always tried hard and believed we could have done better,” Mahmuti said after the game. “I hope we did not disappoint our fans. It is up to them to rate [our success].”