BC Wolves book a historic win in BKT EuroCup after a wild finish
BC Wolves book a historic win in BKT EuroCup after a wild finish

The BC Wolves secured their first-ever win in the BKT EuroCup after downing erstwhile undefeated Besiktas Emlakjet Istanbul in a thrilling endgame. Trailing by 7 points in the final minute, the Wolves managed to do what seemed to be impossible and pulled off a fantastic victory 90-88 (22-18, 22-19, 23-28, 23-23).

The club's historic first-ever victory in the European Cup was witnessed by more than 8,000 spectators at the Avia Solutions Group arena.

The Wolves were led by Tre'Shawn Thurman, who played impressively in front of the Vilnius home crowd and logged 31 points, 7 rebounds, and collected 37 EFF points.

The Vilnius-based club led early and managed to stay ahead for most of the game. By the middle of the second quarter, the team held a double-digit advantage (37:26) and ended the first half with a 7-point margin - 44:37.

In the third quarter, Kristupas Žemaitis carried the Vilnius offense on his shoulders, hitting three shots from the three-point arc. Thanks to his threes, the Wolves managed to keep a slim lead for a while. With a couple of minutes left to play in the 3Q, Besiktas went ahead for the first time (63:62).

The team from the nation's capital regained the advantage and led by 5 points after the opening minutes of the final quarter. However, the Wolves were unable to mount a consistent offense for more than 3 minutes after that.

Beşiktaş not only took the lead but also began to pull away. With less than 3 minutes left to play, the guests went ahead by 8 points (84:76). Despite their efforts, the Vilnius squad failed to get any closer. In the final minute, Jonah Mathew hit a two-pointer and a free throw to make it 87-80, and it looked like the Wolves would suffer another upset.

However, there was light at the end of the tunnel for the home team after Eigirdas Žukauskas made a three-pointer (83:87) with under a minute left to play. After the opposing team missed one of two free throws, T. Thurman hit a booming three-pointer as he was fouled, then sank the bonus free throw to reduce the team's deficit to a single point (87:88).

After Besiktas' full timeout, the guests made a crucial mistake when inbounding the ball. After Adas Juškevičius deflected the inbounds pass, T. Thurman caught it and put the Wolves ahead with a shot from under the basket, bringing the entire Avia Solutions Group arena to its feet with 7 seconds left in the game. After another timeout, Besiktas was not able to redeem its late-game error.

The Wolves played without the injured Jeffery Taylor and Djordje Gagic.

Scoring distribution for the BC Wolves: Tre'Shawn Thurman 31, Kristupas Žemaitis 17, Rasheed Sulaimon 13 (6 rebounds), Eigirdas Žukauskas 7 (8 rebounds), Vaidas Kariniauskas 6, Christian Mekowulu and Adas Juškevičius 5 each, Regimantas Miniotas 4, and Egidijus Mockevičius 2. Arnas Beručka played but went scoreless while Vitalijus Kozys did not enter the game.

Matt Mitchell scored 21 points and Jonah Mathews notched 20 markers for Besiktas.

Wolves head coach Kęstutis Kemzūra: "What can I say? Wow is probably the best word to describe it. Statistics are important, but much more important is the heart. It was a tough match, as we expected. In the second half of the match, the opponents came back, were much more aggressive, much more physical and we were stuck. No more luck in playing, no more luck in scoring. They found a way to make baskets, we tried to change defenses and adapt, but it was not easy to do. Rebounding, Mekowulu fouled out, Kariniauskas fouled out. It seemed everything to be spinning against us. But basketball is a game that I like to apply real-life examples to. You have to fight until the end. It's not over until it's over. I'm proud of my guys who fought until the end. No matter what, we won today. I am very happy about that. I am grateful to the arena's spectators. It's a good feeling and at the same time, it's a good lesson. In the two games before that, we were unlucky in overtime time. Today was our time."

Wolves will play their next BKT EuroCup match on October 31, an away game against Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana (Slovenia).

Photo: Rokas Lukoševičius