Turk Telekom's Big Three delivers again
Turk Telekom Ankara had very well-defined roles all season, and the semifinals showdown against Prometey Slobozhanske was no exception. Its main players led Turk Telekom to a 74-76 road win against Prometey Slobozhanske to reach the 7DAYS EuroCup Final for the first time.
Jerian Grant has the team's primary floor general all season and proved why on Wednesday at Arena Riga. Grant led the winners with 19 points, 6 assists, 2 steals, 8 fouls drawn and a PIR of 20. Telekom led 41-48 early in the second half when three different Prometey players – Illia Sydorov, Oleksandr Lypovyy and Gian Clavell – each struck from downtown. In response, Grant did not hesitate, scoring 8 quick points and burying a huge triple at the shot-clock buzzer that kept Turk Telekom out of trouble, 50-56.
Grant is not the only Turk Telekom player always ready to hit tough shots. Axel Bouteille scored 12 of his 16 points after the break, finishing the game with 4 three-pointers in 7 tries, 8 rebounds and a team-high PIR of 22. Bouteille made sure to hit the number of shots required to make his team get an opportunity to win the game down the stretch.
Bouteille and Grant are the team's main creators, but Tyrique Jones balances the team's offense just by being a great finisher around the rim, and the team's main defensive anchor. Jones had a double-double against Prometey, 11 points and 14 rebounds, and amassed a PIR of 21. He has been a 59.3% free throw shooter this season but hit 5 of 7 in the semifinals, hitting 1 of 2 with 11.6 seconds left to fix the final score.
Grant, Bouteille and Jones have been rock-solid all-season. Turk Telekom is the only team with three players averaging a PIR of 18.0 or better. Grant ranks first (18.7 PIR), averaging 14.8 points and 6.2 assists. Bouteille (18.0 PIR) leads the team in scoring (17.8 ppg.) on 44.8% from downtown and 88.9% from the foul line this season. Jones (18.5 PIR) averages 12.5 points and a team-best 7.8 rebounds.
The best thing that can be said about Turk Telekom is that despite having its roles so well-defined, any player can step up in crunch time, and that was shown against Prometey. The hosts went on an 8-0 run to take a 74-73 lead heading into the final minute. Point guard Tony Taylor, one of the most experienced players in the team, buried the go-ahead mid-range jumper with 31.4 seconds left. The guests' strong defense made the difference down the stretch.
"As I said from the beginning, I am not naming one player; we are a team. So, every single one needs to give everything, whatever is needed," Turk Telekom head coach Erdem Can said after the game. "It is not one name because the whole season, it has been the team's work."
Grant, who was exultant after the game, also pointed out that Turk Telekom's initials are the "T" of team.
"It was a total team effort. You see, down the stretch, different guys made different plays and we came out on top," Grant said. "One more game! We have 40 more minutes! Forty more minutes!"