There will be a Turkish club in the Final for the second time in five FIBA Basketball Champions League seasons. Pinar Karsiyaka defeated Casademont Zaragoza 84-79 in the first Semi-Final, booking a trip to the title game, where they will play against either SIG Strasbourg or the defending champions Hereda San Pablo Burgos.
In a high-energy game with 1000 fans in the stands, Karsiyaka found a way back from a seven-point deficit in the fourth quarter and became the second Turkish team to reach the championship game – Banvit did it in San Cristobal de La Laguna, Tenerife back in 2017.
Coach Ufuk Sarica’s men looked out of it, having let a 14-point lead slip out of their hands and finding themselves in a -7 hole with nine minutes to play. It came down to their hustle, as 22-year-old Onuralp Bitim made several crucial plays, scored five points, forced Zaragoza guards into turnovers, and led the comeback.
From then on, it was all about who makes more clutch plays. Amath M’Baye and Raymar Morgan took over, dominating one-on-one while Zaragoza looked like they ran out of gas in their third-quarter comeback. Spaniards came back to a one-possession deficit but fumbled the ball down by 3 with 20 seconds to play.
Casademont Zaragoza lost back-to-back Semi-Finals, and you’ve got to feel for Jacob Wiley in particular. The big guy only joined Zaragoza mid-season but was an instant hit, and his performances during the Final 8 have been on an incredibly high level. Wiley’s 21 points on the 9-of-13 shooting went to waste for ZGZ against KSK.