Ulker of Istanbul took care of its own business on Thursday and lifted itself into the Top 16 with a 93-79 over visiting Peristeri in Group B. The victory helped Ulker to a 9-5 final record for the regular season, which combined with the loss of Opel Skyliners in Bologna, put the Turkish champs in a two-way tie for third place in the group with Union Olimpija. By virtue of having beaten Olimpija in both their meetings, Ulker took third place and thus joins Group H, headed by Tau Ceramica, in the Top 16. Perimeter poppers Miljan Goljovic, with 21 points, and Harun Erdenay, with 16, led the charge for Ulker. For Perister, Michael Andersen had 15, Alexis Papadatos and Adam Wojcik 13 each. Peristeri, which finished in seventh place at 3-11, put up a fine fight until after halftime, when both its key contributors, Byron Dinkins and Wojcik, left the court with injuries in a three-minute span.
It was a race for basket in the first quarter for both sides as Peristeri ran out ahead and led the match for nearly 5 full minutes. After Michael Andersen put the visitors ahead by 5 points, 13-8, in the fourth minute, Miljan Goljovic woke up Ulker. Goljovic scored 2 straight three-pointers for his team to push Ulker ahead 16-13. From there on in, the two teams played each other even, so that a Tutku Acik drive to finish off the quarter was enough to put Ulker ahead 28-24 after 10 minutes.
For the first six minutes of the second quarter, Ulker defended that four-point lead. Free throws by Erdenay held the edge at 39-34 halfway through the quarter. The Istanbul team then started to lengthen the differance minute by minute. When Erdenay and Acik connected on consecutive three-pointers in the next minute, the lead ballooned to 11 points, at 47-36. Peristeri fought back with Wojcik andDinkins scoring to reduce the differance to 6 points at the end of the first half, 52-46.
Ulker started the third quarter much more effective and creatively than it had started the first two. A Bud Eley dunk and Goljovic foul shots in the first four minutes reestablished the double-digit lead at 14 points, 62-48. Then Peristeri's leader, Dinkins, had to go to the benchw ith an eye injury. A Goljovic fastbreak pushed the advantage to 15, at 69-54. And then Wojcik injured his ankle in the 28th minute. With Peristeri's two biggest guns out, Ulker eased away on Goljovic's last-second three pointer to a solid 74-55 edge after three quarters.
After losing Dinkins and Wojcik, Peristeri just tried to stand by with Alexis Papadatos three-pointers. But Erdenay answered in kind, and immediately. His next three-pointer made it 88-70, ending all doubt and putting Ulker in the Top 16 through the big door.
Wednesday, February 13, 2002
Gokhan Ture, Istanbul