Say what you want about the European extension of Allen Iverson’s basketball career, the man can still play. Unfortunately, an utter lack of depth ultimately killed Beşiktaş Cola Turka and Ergin Ataman’s coaching debut with the Turkish club against Euroleague side Efes Pilsen Istanbul last night, 85-83 in overtime.
Iverson played a sliver under 40 minutes, going for 17 points on 6-of-11 overall shooting plus an impressive eight assists. Beşiktaş’ other blue chips turned in good-to-excellent games, with Cevher Ozer (27 points, 11-of-18, seven rebounds) the top dog, A.J. Ogilvy (7-of-12, 18 points, 14 boards) continuing as the double-double machine in the Iverson Era; and Mire Chatman (5-of-11, 10 points, six rebounds) solid.
Unfortunately, only three other Besiktas players saw any floor time at all and Mustafa Abi’s 18-plus minutes consisted of a brutal five personal fouls plus 0-of-2 shooting – imagine that player index rating.
Playing in the Brewers’ home, Besiktas won the first quarter, 31-23, behind lots of nifty playing from A.I., despite an 8-0 Efes run by Kerem Tunceri, Igor Rakocevic and Kerem Gonlum.
The second quarter was marked by both teams’ backcourt play: Good news for Beşiktaş, then, and not so much for Efes Pilsen. Iverson and Chatman both played nearly the entire stanza, shutting down Gonlum and Bootsy Thornton as the Eagles took a 48-39 lead into halftime.
Thornton refound the way after halftime for Efes Pilsen, as in the third, but Beşiktaş’ answer was again Mr. Answer. Iverson took the last shot of the third for the Eagles and sunk a jumper just inside the arc to make it 64-55.
Veteran coach Ataman produced no immediate solution to that problem which has dogged Beşiktaş all season: fourth quarter letdowns. Sure enough, Thorton and Bostjan Nachbar were able to combine for an unanswered 11-0 run that knotted things up at 73-73.
In overtime, A.I. managed to feed A.J. outside, and the Aussie’s three made it 82-80 in favor of the visiting Eagles with just 1:15 to play. On Beşiktaş’ final meaningful possession, however, Chatman missed a wild three; Nachbar then drew Chatman’s fifth personal foul in the Beşiktaş end of the court as he brought the ball up. Free throws, fat lady, Efes Pilsen maintains third place in the TBL at 10-4.
Gonlum finished with 26 points and 12 rebounds for Istanbul, while Nachbar contributed a 26-8 game.
As for Beşiktaş, it’s an extreme good news/bad news situation. The Efes game demonstrated the Eagles’ best cohesion yet, with exciting things happening particularly among Iverson, Chatman and Ogilvy – and this in coach Ataman’s debut game. On the other hand, Beşiktaş currently sits at 7-6 in TBL play, “good” for a tie in the no. 8 spot in the standings.
For Beşiktaş, fans’ve got to be thinking, it’s no longer a question of “Can they turn things around?” but rather a statement that “They have to turn things around. And soon.”
Beşiktaş Cola Turka hosts Mersin next Sunday at 2pm CET (8pm EST).