AEK pull away from Galatasaray in fourth quarter, advance to Quarter-Finals
ATHENS (Greece) - AEK defended home court against Galatasaray Nef, 92-78, to punch their ticket to the Quarter-Finals of the Basketball Champions League, while Galatasaray's chances of advancing are still hanging by a thread.
AEK have now won eight of their last nine games in the BCL. Galatasaray have dropped back-to-back road games for the first time this season.
Turning point: The three-pointers were flying early, as each team knocked down five of them in the first quarter and combined for 60 points. The biggest lead through three quarters was only 6 points, and there were 19 lead changes throughout the game, but AEK took command in the final quarter and were able to get the 14-point victory.
Game hero: In only his second BCL game with AEK, Brynton Lemar scored a team-high 21 points along with 2 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals. The 28-year-old guard shot 7-of-15 from the field, 2-of-4 from three-point and a perfect 5-of-5 from the foul line.
Stats don't lie: Galatasaray's 15 turnovers came back to hurt them, as they led to 22 points for AEK. AEK's bench unit was also key, having a 45-23 advantage over Galata's. Janis Strelnieks (15 points) and Vlado Jankovic (14 points) combined for 29 of those 45 points.
Strelnieks has scored at least 10 points off the bench in seven of his last nine games in the competition, also making multiple three-pointers in eight of nine games.
Bottom line: AEK improved to 4-1 in Group K and have advanced to the Quarter-Finals for the first time since 2019-20. They will close the Round of 16 at home against Unicaja on Tuesday March 21.
Galatasaray fall to 2-3 in the group and will be eliminated from contention if Unicaja defeat Limoges CSP later on Wednesday night. The Turkish team close the Round of 16 on the road at Limoges on Tuesday March 21.
"It was a very competitive game. I'm very proud of our guys and how we competed. We knew how important this game was, so we had to all be mentally locked in because we knew they're a very good team so I'm just happy that we won." - Brynton Lemar, AEK
"I believe we achieved something really big, if you consider the circumstances. I feel that at the beginning, after the draw took place, nobody believed in us. We went through some really difficult groups against really good opponents with bigger budgets, we had a lot of injuries, but we stayed alive because of the character of the players, and I really feel proud for them and what they have achieved." - Ilias Kantzouris, Head Coach AEK
"I think for about 30 minutes, we had a tight game. At that point, it could've went either way, but the last 10 minutes, AEK played much more physical than us, much more tougher on both ends of the court. I think they just showed that they wanted it more in the last 10 minutes. We didn't answer well to their aggressiveness and physicality, and I think that's the reason why we lost." - Dusan Ristic, Galatasaray Nef
"I think I can safely say that in the end, we ran out of juice. Our rotation was small, and we didn't have the strength to keep up with AEK's physicality. I believe key players for AEK were Strelnieks. The stats don't do justice to the impact he had on the game, and also Vlado Jankovic was very important defensively and he disrupted our game, dictated the physicality, so that was very important to them." - Andreas Pistiolis, Head Coach Galatasaray Nef