The Rixos Cup final was exactly what one would expect from a pre-season tournament. The play was sloppy, the rosters weren’t complete, but at least Besiktas and Olympiacos provided some excitement in Istanbul.
We don’t expect much when the main focus for teams is to get warmed up and stay healthy but there were enough outbreaks of basketball to entertain viewers in the Rixos Cup Final. The pre-season tournament at the Besiktas Integral Arena saw the home team face Euroleague champions Olympiacos Piraeus in the final. After a 7-0 run going into the final minute, it looked like Besiktas would take the honours but a buzzer beating lay-up by Cedric Simmons forced overtime.
OT wasn’t France vs Spain bad but it was still pretty bad. After a solid minute and a half of scoreless ball, Hakan Guler put the home side in front. Simmons went 1 of 2 from the line at the other end before Chris Lofton delivered a moment of genius with a steal at mid-court before racing in unchallenged for the lay-up. Besiktas led by 3 and in a period where neither side looked like scoring freely, it seemed to be enough.
As time wound down both sides went into foul mode and Besiktas appeared to have played it smart, leading 86-85 with 12 seconds to play and possession at mid-court. Olympiacos pressed hard however and with the home side failing to get the ball in-bounds, the Greeks had one more shot at victory. Matt Lojeski proved the hero, well as much as there can be one in September, with the bucket to win the game 87-86.
The post-game festivities in what had quickly become and empty gym were a tad over-done. Sponsors must be pleased but there were five trophies handed out before they even got to giving Besiktas their gong as runners-up of the six team tournament. At least Georgios Printezis had the grace to stand quietly with the winner’s trophy rather than raise it aloft in triumph. Such moments should be saved for the games that really matter.
Earlier in the day Anadolu Efes took third place with a 94-65 win over Zalgiris Kaunas while Budivelnik Kiev topped Fenerbahce 86-78 to finish in fifth.