Shorthanded Besiktas stun Hapoel U-NET Holon, gain home court advantage

HOLON (Israel) – Despite only having nine available players in uniform, Besiktas Icrypex were able to pull out a wild back-and-forth game over Hapoel U-NET Holon, 73-72, grabbing a 1-0 lead in the Play-In series.

Besiktas were missing some key players including Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Trevon Bluiett and Josh Reaves.

Before this win, Besiktas had lost eight of their last 10 away games in the Basketball Champions League and they had not yet won a play-in/playoff game in the competition.

This was the fourth time that Besiktas won a BCL game by a one-point margin, as only AEK (5) have won more BCL games by the narrowest difference.

Turning point: Holon hadn’t scored in the second quarter until there was 4:21 left, but Besiktas were only able to score 6 points in that time.

Holon then closed the quarter on a 15-5 run to take a 35-28 lead heading into the third.

Just when it looked like Holon had momentum going to the second half, Besiktas came out hot and outscored Holon 24-17 in the third quarter, tying up the game going to the fourth.

The final couple minutes of the fourth quarter were a frenzy:

Isaiah Whitehead hits a three to cut Besiktas’ deficit to 66-64, Whitehead hits another three to give Besiktas a 67-66 lead, Adam Smith hits a three to give Holon the 69-67 lead, Kenan Sipahi hits a three to give Besiktas the 70-69 lead, Ercan Osmani hits 1-of-2 free-throws to extend Besiktas’ lead to 71-69, Guy Pnini hits a three to put Holon back on top 72-71 with 9.5 seconds left, and finally, Whitehead hits a game-winning layup to give Besiktas a 73-72 lead with 1.8 seconds left.

Game hero: Whitehead was clutch all night and led the way for Besiktas with 21 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals, while shooting 7-of-15 from the field and 3-of-7 from three-point.

Stats don’t lie: Despite Holon having a 15-12 advantage in offensive rebounds, Besiktas still scored more second chance points (18-15).

Holon had 19 assists compared to 11 for Besiktas and Joe Ragland dished out six for Holon.

Both teams struggled from three-point, but Besiktas used their 28 points in the paint to their advantage.

Bottom line: Rafael Menco led the way for Holon, as he recorded his first double-double in the BCL with 18 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists and a game-high efficiency rating of 24, while shooting 7-of-13 from the field and 4-of-8 from three-point.

It was also the first time that he grabbed 5+ rebounds in any of his seven appearances in the BCL.

Besiktas took care of business on the road, as they have grabbed a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three Play-In series.

Now with their backs against the wall, Holon will look to keep their season alive when they travel to Istanbul for Game 2 on January 12.

They said: “We just knew we needed a bucket and a stop,” said Besiktas’ Whitehead. “Coach drew up a play, I executed, then we came down, got a defensive stop. That’s how we win games. Next man up mentality, everybody stepped up. … We’re looking forward to it [playing at home]. We got a couple games before that, but we’re looking forward to it.”

“When we needed stops, I think we got the initial stop, but didn’t get the rebound,” said Holon’s Smith. “They got some crucial offensive rebounds and they hit some threes. … Just one more stop here or there. … Credit to them, they’re a tough team, but they came in here and won. They played well, so we gotta do the same thing in Turkey.”