Turkish club Pınar Karşıyaka will be playing for the FIBA Basketball Champions League (BCL) title Sunday after beating Spain's Casademont Zaragoza 84-79 in Friday's semifinal game.
In its second European final bid, the Izmir club will be facing another Spanish opponent, title holder Hereda San Pablo Burgos which defeated French side SIG Strasbourg 81-70 the same night.
American-Jamaican guard Sek Henry led his team to victory to play with 24 points at the Nagorny dome in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. French forward Amath M'Baye scored 17 points, while American center Raymar Morgan produced 14 points and six rebounds.
For the Spanish side, forward Jacob Wiley was the highest scorer of his team with 21 points. Argentine guard Nicolas Brussino scored 18 points and seven rebounds in the loss to the Turkish club.
Pınar Karşıyaka had defeated Czech side ERA Nymburk 84-73 in Wednesday's quarterfinal tie, whereas Burgos eliminated Israel's UNET Holon to reach the final of the fifth edition of BCL.
Underlining that they have not added a single new player to the squad since last year, coach Ufuk Sarıca told reporters in post-match press conference that he trusts his players for the final and they are a fighting team that could accomplish anything.
A win in Sunday's final will make former national basketball team coach Sarıca – who won the Turkish Cup, Presidential Cup and Basketball Super League (BSL) championships with Karşıyaka – the third Turkish trainer to win a European title after Aydın Örs and Ergin Ataman.
The Aegean club, playing in European competitions since 1975-1976 season, will be at a European final for a second time after the FIBA EuroChallenge Cup in the 2012-13 season, which was won by the Russian side Krasnye Krylia Samara. This year's participation to BCL marks Karşıyaka's 11th consecutive European bid since 2010-2011 season.
In a total of 237 European matches, Pınar Karşıyaka clinched 129 wins, faced 106 defeats and two ties. The Izmir club played a total of 13 matches against Spanish teams, losing six times while clinching seven victories, including a 71-62 win against Barcelona in its maiden EuroLeague match and campaign in 2015-2016 season.
Turkish club Banvit Bandırma previously played in BCL final in 2016-2017 season, losing to Spanish representative Iberostar Tenerife 63-59.
If Pınar Karşıyaka wins Sunday, it will be the sixth Turkish men's basketball team to clinch a trophy in Europe, following Anadolu Efes in Korac Cup (1996), Beşiktaş in Eurochallenge (2012), Galatasaray and Darüşşafaka in ULEB Eurocup (2016 and 2018) and Fenerbahçe in EuroLeague (2017). The club could also fill its coffers through a 1 million euro ($1.21 million) championship reward or 400,000 euro runners-up prize, in addition to 570,000 euros earned in BCL so far.
A small group of Karşıyaka fans is in Russia to support the team. Demirören News Agency (DHA) reported that a small fire broke out at a hotel where fans are staying early Friday, causing panic, but was soon extinguished by firefighters.
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