Euroleague newcomers Neptunas are on the verge of qualification to the Top 16 at the first attempt after beating Galatasaray 82-72 in Klaipeda on Wednesday night.
In a closely fought battle throughout, the Lithuanians, who have won four out of their five home games in Group D now must do what they have failed to do so far this season in the Euroleague: Win on the road. They face struggling Valencia on the final week of action in Spain.
Deividas Gailius paced the winners with 23 points. Mustafa Shakur added 16 while Arnas Butkevicius had 11 for Neptunas, as they move to 4-5.
“This is great,” Gailius said afterwards. “We want to go to the Top 16 and make history for the city and our club. We gave 150 percent today and won the game. We are very, very happy. We played with big energy. We were 100 percent focused from the beginning of the game until the end.”
Zoran Erceg led Galatasaray with 24 points, but with this defeat, drop to 3-6. A win would have meant that the Turkish side would have sealed a place in the Top 16 due to their previous win in week four.
Gailius and Martynas Mazeika fueled an early 7-0 run that allowed Neptunas to hold on to a 22-18 lead after the first 10 minutes. Galatasaray went with a big lineup with Erceg at small forward, which paid off right away. Erceg followed back-to-back triples with a layup to give the guests a 28-27 edge. Butkevicius and an outstanding Gailius helped Neptunas regain the lead at 40-37, at halftime.
A 6-0 burst, capped off with a bucket by Guler gave Galatasaray a 43-40 edge after the break. Gailius and Valdas Vasylius took over from downtown to make it a nine-point game, but Erceg and Ender Arslan kept the guests within 63-60 through three quarters.
A huge dunk by Gailius gave Neptunas a 72-65 margin midway through the fourth quarter and Galatasaray never recovered.