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Herbalife Gran Canaria makes history in Izmir

History in the making. Herbalife Gran Canaria reached its first-ever Eurocup semifinals by beating Pinar Karsiyaka in Izmir 74-75. The team improved to an impressive 19-1 record.

Herbalife Gran Canaria reached its first-ever Eurocup semifinals by downing Pinar Karsiyaka Izmir 74-75 in front of almost 5,000 fans in Turkey on Wednesday. Herbalife Gran Canaria swept the series, improved to 19-1 in the 2014-15 Eurocup and is set to face Unics Kazan in the semifinals – its first appearance in this round in its ninth season in the competition. Brad Newley led the winners with 15 points. Levon Kendall added 12 while Albert Oliver and Kyle Kuric each had 10 for Gran Canaria. Bobby Dixon led Karsiyaka with 24 points on 6-of-8 three-point shots. Juan Palacios added 15 while D.J. Strawberry had 11 for the guests.

Dixon shined early and a three-pointer by Jon Diebler gave Karsiyaka a 15-11 lead. Gran Canaria improved its defense and a dunk by Kendall tied it at 19-19 after 10 minutes. Gran Canaria found a go-to guy in Newley, who found plenty of help from Oliver and Walter Tavares to make their team get a 32-41 margin at halftime. A layup by Tavares gave the guests their biggest lead, 35-46. Strawberry and Palacios brought Karsiyaka within 53-57 but Baez banked in a jumper at the third quarter buzzer for a 53-59 Gran Canaria lead. Karsiyaka took a 71-67 lead with 3 minutes left but Eulis Baez and an outstanding Kendall allowed Herbalife Gran Canaria to win the game and sweep the series.

Tavares got Herbalife Gran Canaria going with a close basket which Dixon bettered with back-to-back triples for a 6-2 Karsiyaka lead. Tomas Bellas nailed a five-meter jumper and a tip-in by Kuric tied it at 6-6. Dixon hit free throws that Kuric bettered with a wild triple. Dixon – who else? – scored again, Newley hit foul shots and a layup by Palacios gave Karsiyaka a 12-11 edge. Diebler downed one from downtown and matched Tavares’s dunk with a layup but Newley and Baez kept Herbalife Gran Canaria within 19-17. Kendall dunked off a steal to tie the game, 19-19, after 10 minutes. Kendall hit free throws early in the second quarter but Dixon improved that with a three-pointer. Erkan Veyseloglu took over with a driving layup and a triple by Oliver tied it at 24-24. Veyseloglu and Oliver traded baskets and Baez put Gran Canaria back ahead, 26-28. Newley dunked off a steal and a layup by Tavares made the hosts call timeout at 26-32. Dixon sank a wild three-pointer and soon made free throws but an outstanding Newley singlehandedly gave Herbalife Gran Canaria a 31-39 margin. Free throws by Oliver made it a 19-point series, 32-41 (98-117), at halftime.

Diebler tried to ignite the hosts’ comeback with a three-pointer immediately after the break. Kuric answered from downtown and a tip-in by Tavares boosted the guests’ lead to 35-46. Strawberry stepped up with a second-chance basket and back-to-back jumpers by Palacios kept Karsiyaka within 41-46. Oliver and Strawberry exchanged triples and a layup by Kuric gave the guests fresh air at 44-51. Kendall hit a mid-range jumper, Gabriel dunked and Txemi Urtasun found his first points to make the hosts call timeout at 46-55. Strawberry scored again and a three-pointer by Baris Hersek ignited the crowd at 51-55. Urtasun and Palacios traded layups and a buzzer-beating jumper by Baez gave Gran Canaria a 53-59 margin after 30 minutes.

Hersek scored early in the fourth quarter but Bellas did better with a three-pointer. Urtasun hit a technical free throw and Palacios kept the hosts within 59-63. Newley scored around the basket but back-to-back triples by Dixon and free throws by Veyseloglu tied it at 67-67 with over 4 minutes left. A dunk by Strawberry made Gran Canaria call timeout at 69-67. Hersek hit foul shots and back-to-back jumpers by Kendall sealed the outcome of the series, 71-71, with 1:54 left. Both teams kept fighting for a prestigious win and Herbalife Gran Canaria rounded a perfect series to march on to the semifinals.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

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