Fenerbahce Ulker took a step toward reaching the Top 16 in difficult Group C by edging Partizan Igokea 72-76 at Pionir Arena in Belgrade, Serbia, on Wednesday night. Fenerbahce registered its fourth win in the last five games and improved to 4-3 in the Group C standings. Meanwhile, Partizan is now fifth with a 3-4 record. Willie Solomon led the winners with 21 points on 9-for-9 free throw shooting despite being questionable for the game due to a hamstring injury. Omer Onan added 15, while James “Flight” White and Oguz Savas each had 12 points for Fenerbahce, which played without rebounding machine Mirsad Turkcan. Nikola Pekovic led Partizan with 26 points on 11-for-17 two-point shooting, while Dusan Kecman added 16 for the hosts. Fenerbahce led the game from the opening basket, taking a 16-20 edge after 10 minutes. A 9-0 run that Milenko Tepic capped with a three-pointer gave the hosts their first lead, 31-29, but free throws by Solomon put Fener back ahead, 34-35, at halftime. A 0-11 run that Solomon capped with a triple gave Fenerbahce a 41-48 lead midway through the third quarter. An outstanding Pekovic helped Partizan to regain the lead, 60-56, but Onan stepped up with two critical triples and Savas allowed Fenerbahce to enter the final 45 seconds with a 68-73 lead. Emir Preldzic and Solomon made free throws to give Fener a big road win down the stretch.
Solomon opened fire with a three-pointer. Partizan was forced to shoot long jumpers and missed twice. White joined Solomon as Fenerbahce led 0-6 before Pekovic scored first for the hosts. Both teams were playing strong on defense with lots of fast breaks. When Oguz Savas replaced Gasper Vidmar, the visitors strengthened their frontline, but Pekovic was unstoppable scoring 8 points in the opening five minutes. Onan nailed his third triple for Fenerbahce and Savas added a jumper as Fener took a 10-17 lead. Pekovic and Cedomir Vitkovac hit to get Partizan within 16-20 after 10 minutes, during which Pekovic scored 12.
Fenerbahce kept shooting bombs at the beginning of the second period. Ibrahim Kutluay and Solomon boosted the lead to 20-27 as Partizan players kept missing underneath. Pekovic was haunted by Semih Erden who spent two seasons early in his career with Partizan, but did not play much. When Pekovic woke up in the middle of the period and scored 4 fast points, Partizan cut the gap to 28-29. Milenko Tepic joined with Partizan's first triple and the hosts led for the first time 31-29, after a 9-0 run. When Pekovic was replaced by Slavko Vranes, Fenerbahce finally scored. In the last minute of the first half, Solomon hit twice from the line and the guests left the court with 34-35 halftime lead.
Both teams started the second half nervous with a lot of missed shots. Fenerbahce went scoreless for nearly three minutes, but Partizan did not take advantage of it. The hosts went ahead 41-37 thanks to bomb from Kecman, but Solomon led a Fenerbahce 0-11 run. Partizan's bench suffered a technical and Solomon added 5 more points as Fener took control. On the other side, Erden left the court with what appeared to be a serious injury and Kecman managed to keep Partizan in the game with 5 straight points. When Petar Bozic scored twice from the line, the Fener lead was cut to 52-53. However Savas managed to nail 2 more points for Fenerbahce before the third period ended.
With aggressive defensive work, Fenerbahce managed to stop Partizan's offensive weapons, but the price was many fouls. Milt Palacio tied the score at 55-55 and then Uros Tripkovic hit from behind the arc for a 58-56 Partizan lead. Onan struck back with his own triple and White brought back the lead to the visiting side midway through the period. The teams were struggling for each basket in a galvanized atmosphere at the sold-out Pionir Arena. Onan nailed one more from downtown and Pekovic fouled out with three minutes remaining. His replacement, Vranes, missed twice from the line and Savas converted a three-point-play. The same player added 2 more from the line and decided the winner in the last minute of the game.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007