Bakken Bears and Bahcesehir College both took the next step toward the FIBA Europe Cup Finals after coming through hard-fought first-leg ties on Wednesday.
The FIBA Europe Cup Semi-Finals action began with Bakken securing a close 74-72 triumph over Unahotels Reggio Emilia, while Bahcesehir came from behind to defeat ZZ Leiden 77-71 on the road with both games in front of passionate crowds.
Marvelle Harris continued his fine form in the Play-Offs with an important go-ahead three-pointer in the final minute as Bakken held on for a two-point victory at home. The competition’s all-time leading scorer, Michel Diouf, added to his tally with a 19-point effort in the win.
Bakken started strong and led by as many as 12 points in the contest as they poured in 30 points in the second quarter before being pegged back. Reggio Emilia trailed 71-63 with 4:29 remaining when Diouf netted a triple, but they hit back with ten unanswered points to take the lead on a third successive score from Mikael Hopkins.
Then, up stepped Harris on the following possession. The American guard knocked down the three before drawing an offensive foul at the other end as the Bears sealed victory with a slender cushion to take to Italy for next week’s second leg.
Andrea Cinciarini dished out an impressive 16 assists to go with 10 points in the losing effort for the Italians.
Bakken point guard Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson hailed the contribution of the home crowd afterwards: “What a game, and what a crowd. We got lots of energy from the crowd today, in a tough battle where everybody pitched in. That’s what was needed to win, so now we hope for one more win,” the American said.
“We succeeded in many of the small things we wanted to do. As expected, we faced a team with a lot of counter moves, which was to be expected with a point guard as experienced as Andrea Cinciarini. Then you need to make small adjustments along the way,” commented Bakken head coach Anders Sommer.
Meanwhile, Bahcesehir outscored their Dutch hosts 26-13 in the final quarter as they turned what had been a 10-point deficit into a six-point lead. Oguz Savas went 8-of-9 from the floor for 16 points, with Jamar Smith adding 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting in the win.
Leiden edged each of the first three quarters by small margins to build a 58-51 advantage heading into the final 10 minutes. However, the momentum swung in the fourth as the visitors put their outside shooting woes aside as their defense led to easy offense.
Sam Dekker put the finishing touches on the victory with a breakaway dunk in the final seconds to increase the differential heading back to Istanbul. Smith was 3-of-6 from downtown for Bahcesehir, who missed 16 of their other 17 attempts.
Both ties remain nicely poised going into the second legs, with Bakken and Bahcesehir looking to defend their leads to set up a Finals showdown.