Wednesday recap: Karsiyaka break Play-Ins curse; Cholet punch last ticket
MIES (Switzerland) - After reaching the title game in 2021, Pinar Karsiyaka hoped of going a step further in both 2022 and 2023, only to drop out in the Play-Ins. This time around however they jumped that hurdle and will get back to the Round of 16 of the Basketball Champions League.
On Wednesday in Izmir, Karsiyaka engaged in a similar back-and-forth battle with Rio Breogan as in the previous two games of the Play-Ins. A close encounter, but without a dramatic finish because the hosts managed to pull away before the final minute.
Game 3 fit that mold perfectly. The hosts were leading 74-70 with just over two minutes left, but as everybody braced for a thrilling finish, Breogan hit the breaks while Karsiyaka just kept pushing the gas pedal.
A big alley-oop dunk by Vernon Carey Jr, followed by a three-pointer by Darrun Hilliard and another one by Vitto Brown made it an 8-point lead with just 30 seconds left to play.
It finished 86-76, ending Karsiyaka's run of bad luck against the Spaniards in the Play-Ins. Two seasons ago, the Turkish team lost the series 2-1 to Lenovo Tenerife, and last season it was UCAM Murcia with a pair of single-digit wins over Karsiyaka to reach the Round of 16.
Hilliard and Brown both scored 17 points, Errick McCollum and Jaylon Brown combined for 26 off the bench, while Carey dominated inside with 10 points, 9 rebounds and 4 blocks.
Sergi Quintela had 14 points in a losing effort.
Ufuk Sarica's team will face Tenerife once again in Group K. The other two teams are Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem and Peristeri bwin, making this the only Round of 16 group with four teams from four different countries.
While Karsiyaka are making a comeback to the Round of 16, Cholet Basket needed a comeback to get there for the first time in this competition. They lost their first game to Banco di Sardegna Sassari, but connected two straight wins to win the series 2-1 after a 93-77 encounter in France on Wednesday.
It was Cholet's game from start to finish, with the last of the four lead changes happening in the second quarter.
Craig Randall II loved playing against Sassari, putting on another show with a game-high 24 points on 6-of-13 shooting from beyond the arc. The youngster Tidjane Salaun is a regular in double-digit scoring nowadays and his 15-point, 7-rebound display made him the player with the highest efficiency rating among the winners.
Breein Tyree had 17 points for Sassari, not enough for the Italians to make it back to the Round of 16.
Cholet will now face Unicaja, SIG Strasbourg and Tofas Bursa in Group I.