Ulker became the last team to make it to the Top 16 from Group C by edging Montepaschi Siena 74-71 in a do-or-die, winner-take-all showdown for fifth place in Istanbul on Wednesday. Ulker improved to 5-9 and finished fifth in the Group C board, while Montepaschi dropped to 4-10 and finished out of the running for the best sixth-place record. Marcus Haislip led the winners with 25 points on 5 of 7 three-pointers and 8 rebounds. He had missed his 4 three-point attempts in 12 previous Euroleague games before Wednesday. Jeff Trepagnier and Robert Gulyas each added 11 points for Ulker. Rimantas Kaukenas led the way for Montepaschi with 19 points on 9-for-12 shooting while Justin Hamilton added 14 and Shaun Stonerook grabbed 11 rebounds for the guests. Ulker led almost all the way, but a 0-8 run which Stonerook capped with free throws gave Siena a 67-69 edge with 2 minutes to go. Trepagnier stepped up for Ulker with consecutive three-pointers down the stretch, while Vladimer Boisa missed three times from downtown in Montepaschi's final possession trying to tie.
Gulyas got Ulker going with a third-chance basket which Hamilton erased with a short jumper for a 2-2 tie. Haislip answered from downtown and Gulyas scored in the low post to put the hosts in charge, 7-4. Thomas stepped up with a quick layup which Kutluay matched in the other end. Ulker started to dominate the game with strong defense while Haislip took over with a turnaround jumper, good for a 11-6 lead. Kaukenas ran the length of the court with a fast break dunk but Kutluay followed Gulyas' dunk with a three which boosted Ulker's lead to 16-9. Montepaschi found a go-to guy in Hamilton, who scored 8 points in a 3-10 run, including consecutive threes which tied the game at 19-19. Gulyas took over with a dunk-plus-foul and Haislip added another slam to fix the score at 24-19 at the end of the first quarter.
Haislip stayed on fire early in the second quarter with a three-pointer, but Montepaschi was not done. Ben Eze scored around the basket and Duane Woodward beat the shot clock with a three to bring the guests within 27-24. Cuneyt Erden stepped up with a triple, as Ulker finally adjusted its defense once Turkcan stepped on court. Eze hit a short jumper but Gulyas answered with a tip-in to keep Ulker ahead, 32-25. A big three by Omer Onan forced a Montepaschi timeout at 35-27. Thomas came for the guests' rescue with a high-flying tip-in. Gulyas beat Montespachi's zone defense with a second-chance layup while a big offensive rebound by Onan allowed Turkcan to beat the buzzer with a three-meter tip-in for a 39-29 Ulker lead at halftime.
Mindaugas Zukauskas tried to ignit the Montepaschi comeback with a fast break layup early in the third quarter which Stefanov matched with a floating jumper in the other end. Haislip, who had not made a three in 13 Euroleague games so far, nailed his third triple in this game which Zukauskas erased with his own shot for downtown. Kaukenas stepped up with a short jumper and added a three in a 0-10 Montepaschi run which Stonerook capped with a tip-in for 44-41 after 24 minutes. Haislip shined with a layup, but Chiacig followed free throws with a power dunk, forcing an Ulker timeout at 46-45. Turkcan came off a screen to hit a long jumper but Stonerook tied the game, 48-48, with a big three. Haislip took over with back-to-back threes, Trepagnier had a huge block on Chiacig while Stefanov's three-point play gave Ulker a 57-50 lead after 30 minutes.
Kaukenas kept pacing Montepaschi with a layup which Vladimer Boisa followed with a three-pointer for a 59-55 deficit. Once again Kaukenas stepped up with a five-meter jumper but Onan fired in his second three to keep Ulker ahead, 62-57. Trepagnier fed Haislip for a layup before Onan and Thomas were ejected due to a fight. Kaukenas dunked it and Stonerook scored around the basket to bring Montepaschi back into the game, 64-61. Trepagnier shined with a three, but a red hot Kaukenas and Hamilton made back-to-back baskets to bring the guests even closer, 67-65, with 3 minutes to go. Kaukenas - who else? - slashed for a layup and Stonerook added free throws to give Montepaschi a 67-69 lead. Trepagnier beat the shot clock with a big three and even when Hamilton sank a long jumper for Siena, Trepagnier fired in another triple for a 73-71 Ulker lead already in the final minute. Kaukenas missed a jumper while Turkcan made 1 of 2 free throws with 15 seconds to go. Boisa missed as many as 3 three-point attempts in Siena's final possession, as Ulker won the game and reached the Top 16!
Wednesday, February 8, 2006