Turk Telekom led just once in the game, but it was when it mattered most, at the end as they disposed of Hapoel Jerusalem 78-77 in a marquee Champions League matchup. Oded Katash who was in charge of his final game with the club before heading to Panathinaikos, wanted to send Jerusalem off with a win and a place in the next round of continental play, but it was not to be as the squad couldn’t hold onto a 19 point lead.
Kamar Baldwin scored the tying points on a layup and then hit the winning free throw as Turk held Jerusalem to only 11 fourth quarter points to take the victory.
The defeat puts Jerusalem in a bit of a pickle as they sit in 3rd place with a 2-3 record with only one game left in group play. In order for the Reds to advance to the Playoff round, they will need to defeat Limoges on the road while Turk will need to beat Igokea in Ankara on the final Gameday which will take place on January 26th.
Tashawn Thomas and Tamir Blatt each scored 15 points, Chris Kramer added 14 points and Malcolm Hill chipped in with 12 points in the loss. Sam Dekker led all scorers with 20 points for Turk, Nick Johnson added 15 points, Kyle Wiltjer scored 13 points and Kamar Baldwin notched 11 points in the win.
Malcolm Hill opened the game with a triple and Chris Kramer added one as well for Hapoel Jerusalem, while Michael Eric and Sam Dekker answered for Turk Telekom but Tamir Blatt went from downtown as well to give the hosts an early 13-4 lead midway through the first quarter. Nick Johnson, Kyle Wiltjer and Dekker scored for the visitors but points in the paint by Idan Zalmanson and a triple by J’Covan Brown gave Oded Katash’s crew a 19-12 advantage after ten minutes.
Tashawn Thomas took a Suleiman Braimoh pass for an easy two points and then the aforementioned Braimoh followed that up with a layup of his own to get the second quarter underway. Dekker put down a pair, Johnson scored an uncontested layup and Kamar Baldwin added a basket as well but Blatt and Thomas drained 3-pointers to stay in front 29-18 with 6:09 remaining in the frame. Blatt scored another from behind the arc out of the timeout but Dekker matched him at the other end, however, the 3-point party continued as Braimoh drilled on from the corner while Brown and Zalmanson scored inside as Jerusalem took a 49-34 lead at halftime.
Johnson and Can Korkmaz began to chip away at the Jerusalem lead to begin the third quarter but Blatt hit a midrange jumper and then from long distance to keep Jerusalem in front 58-44 midway through the period. Blatt then fed Thomas for an alley-oop but once again Turk began to take points off the board as Johnson, Wiltjer and Dekker all scored, however, Brown hit a fadeaway at the buzzer as the Reds led 66-55 after thirty minutes of play.
Hill began the fourth quarter just as he started off the first with a 3-pointer but Dekker with two buckets kept Turk in the game 69-61 with 7:02 left in regulation time. Kramer went from deep but Wiltjer answered at the other end as did Dekker to cut the score to 76-71 with 2:41 left in the frame. Samet Geyik scored inside as did Wiltjer on a put back and Baldwin hit a jumper to knot up the score at 77-77 with 42.7 seconds to go. Baldwin drove in the lane was fouled and hit the back end of his free throws to snatch the win 1-point win from the jaws of defeat.