AEK steal home court from Galatasaray, get first Round of 16 win
ISTANBUL (Turkey) - AEK extended their streak of wins against Turkish teams in the Basketball Champions League to four in a row after pulling away for an 81-71 win on the road over Galatasaray Nef in the always-loud environment of the Sinan Erdem Arena.
Turning point: The game was about as close as you can get in the first half, as the biggest lead was only 5 points by AEK. After trailing by that deficit, Galatasaray closed the half on an 8-2 run to regain a 36-35 lead.
Both teams let it fly from three-point range in the third quarter, as there were 10 threes made with each knocking down five of them. The third quarter also featured five lead changes. Galatasaray got to within two points multiple times in the fourth quarter, but AEK held their ground and held the lead for the entire fourth quarter to close out the 10-point victory.
Game heroes: Akil Mitchell continued his dominant level of play and finished with his third consecutive double-double and fourth overall double-double in the BCL this season with 19 points and 13 rebounds (6 offensive) on 8-of-12 shooting from the field.
This is the fourth time that Mitchell has grabbed at least 5 offensive rebounds this season, more than any other player in the league. He also picked up a timely block down the stretch on a shot that would've tied the game.
Dimitris Flionis also came up big for AEK and just missed out on a triple-double with 11 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists along with 2 steals. The 25-year-old recorded his season-high in points, rebounds and assists.
Stats don't lie: AEK were +16 in total rebounds, +8 in offensive rebounds and +11 in points from the bench. Janis Strelnieks, another key contributor for AEK, scored half of the team's bench points (18 out of 36) with 10 of them coming in the second half.
Bottom line: AEK improve to 1-1 in Group K and The Queen will host Limoges CSP in their next game on Tuesday February 7.
Galatasaray drop to 1-1 in the group and were led in defeat by Dusan Ristic who finished with a 10-point, 12-rebound double-double along with 2 blocks. The Turkish club will travel to face fellow Spanish club Unicaja in their next game on Wednesday February 8.
😮💨Another chapter in the 🇹🇷/🇬🇷rivalry belongs to Dimitris Flionis and @aekbcgr: The lefty point guard flirted with a 𝙏𝙍𝙄𝙋𝙇𝙀-𝘿𝙊𝙐𝘽𝙇𝙀, The Queen 👑 stole one on the road in Istanbul! #BasketballCL pic.twitter.com/Vfwq6l5Rjh— Basketball Champions League (@BasketballCL) January 31, 2023
They said: "Very physical game tonight. They're talented. They have a lot of good guards, deep roster. I'm proud of the way that we fought and I'm proud of the way that we came prepared and stepped up and played better basketball in the second half." - Akil Mitchell, AEK
"We said before the game that if we don't play defense, we don't have a chance against a team that averages almost 90 points. First half, I would say I'm not very satisfied. We made a lot of small mistakes that could cost us. Then in the second half, we really did our best defensively. We controlled the rhythm of the game, and we made a huge win for the continuation of the competition." - Ilias Kantzouris, Head Coach AEK
"We just got to get back to the drawing board. This is a tough loss for us, but we can't make it deter us for the future. We're in a tough situation, but you can't give up. It's still a long season and we could turn it around any time. We just got to make sure that everyone is on the same page and look at the future as being positive instead of negative." - Dylan Ennis, Galatasaray Nef
"Congratulations to AEK. They fought a lot more than us. You can see this on the rebounding numbers. This indicates how big of the difference in the fight of the team. The continued changes of our roster have obviously affected our game. It's very tough to play and cooperate; players don't even know each other yet. I can say that the basketball we're playing right now does not reflect my philosophy as a coach. Unfortunately, we're limited and predictable at the moment because of this lack of teamwork. For pretty much most of the game, we played their game instead of our game." - Andreas Pistiolis, Head Coach Galatasaray Nef