Game Notes: Besiktas at Asvel
Iverson watches from the bench as Besiktas melts down in closing minutes.
by Yusuf Atahan Erim
French basketball fans packed a full house at the L’Astroballe to catch a glimpse of Allen Iverson last night. But the Answer’s overseas adventure continued in a rather inauspicious manner with his squad, Besiktas Cola Turka, squandering another late lead to suffer their third-straight defeat in EuroCup action at the hands of Asvel Basket, 88-85.
Both sides played a closely fought first period, which saw stints of sloppy ball handling, keeping either team from breaking out. Andrija Zizic and former Miami Heat guard Matt Walsh capitalized on Besiktas turnovers to pull Asvel ahead late in the quarter. But, a three-pointer by Serhat Cetin in the closing seconds edged Besiktas to an early 26-27 lead at the end of the first.
Besiktas’ Aussie big-man AJ Oglivy began to make his presence felt in the second quarter, taking advantage of the size mismatch in the paint. The former University of Vanderbilt stand-out powered his way to 9 points and 11 boards, making the difference, as his side increased their lead to 40-46 at the half.
The third period opened up with Besiktas extending its lead to a game-high 11 points as point guard Mire Chatman racked up the assists, including a nice kick-out to Iverson for long jumper. After a short time-out, the French side tightened up its defense and cut the lead to 3 points with a 12-3 run, including a spectacular alley-oop finish by Banglay Fofana and a thunderous fast-break dunk by former USC star Davon Jefferson. Besiktas was able to answer back with Chatman from the line with a pair of free-throws, ending the third period, 56-64.
Iverson began the fourth quarter on the bench, were, to the amazement of not only Besiktas but also French fans, he would spend the whole period, ending his day shooting 2-5 from the field for 4 points, while dishing out 4 assists and recording 3 steals. Besiktas, without its leader on the court, began to crumble as poor ball handling and numerous turnovers sparked a 16-2 run for Asvel Basket.
Matt Walsh anchored a 32-point fourth quarter for the home team, scoring critical baskets late to give his side a 72-68 lead with three minutes left. A late three by Michal Ignerski, which helped Besiktas pull to within 1 point at 76-75 with less than two minutes remaining, gave hope to the visitors. But Asvel was strong from the free-throw line in the closing seconds, denying Besiktas and a helpless onlooking Iverson a comeback, icing the game, 88-85.
Matt Walsh led all scorers with 23 points and also contributed with 7 assists for Asvel Basket. Davon Jefferson was force on the boards, pulling down 10 rebounds while pitching in with 13 points. Michal Ignerski led the way for Besiktas Cola Turka with 22 points while James Ogilvy cleaned up with 11 boards.
This is now Besiktas’ third-consecutive defeat in EuroCup tournament play and the second-straight game were the team has blown a fourth-quarter lead, putting coach Burak Biyiktay on the hot seat and pushing the team to the brink of elimination. Also, Iverson’s fourth quarter benching definitely did not seem to resonate well with the Besiktas faithful, who kept chanting his name in the closing minutes to the deaf ear of Coach Biyiktay.
The recent slump has caused a dissension in the ranks as some players blame selfish play for the losses. Center AJ Ogilvy seemed to sum it up best in his post-game twitter rant, “Give me a piece of paper and a pen I’ll give you a play by play of this shit will end.”
Besiktas’ next EuroCup game will be against Asvel Basket at home on December 7.
The only positive note for Besiktas last night was the EuroCup’s independent disciplinary judge accepting the team’s appeal and ordering a full replay of the BG Goettingen EuroCup game, citing failure of the game clock to stop at the end of 40 minutes in its ruling.