Ulker of Istanbul took an important step Thursday in the Group B race by stealing an 82-95 road win at Peristeri in Greece behind the exquisite leadership of Harun Erdenay. The veteran guard scored 20 of his 34 points in the final 10 minutes to break open what had been a tied game after three quarters. With the victory, Ulker moves up to 4-3 at the halfway point in the regular season, good enough for a third- or fourth-place tie depending on later results Thursday. Peristeri drops to 2-5, all the more disappointing because it had both a good start to this home game and let the visitors control their floor at the finish.
The beginning of the game seemed to be a kind of three-point contest. Seven of the eight opening field goals between both teams were scored from 6.25 meters, or beyond! Only Harun Erdenay settled for a two-point basket, quite a paradoxical one considering Giorgos Pantazopoulos (3 for 3), Tutku Acik (2 for 2), Quadre Lollis (1 for 1) and Miljan Goljevic (1 for 1) played a run-and-gun three-point shoot-'em-up. Inspired by Pantazopoulos against the tradional zone defense beloved by Ulker coach Murat Didin, Peristeri took a pair of early six-point leads (12-6 and 17-11), but the Turkish team was able to tie the game 18-18 after seven minutes of play. Kostas Tsartsaris and Byron Dinkins led the Greeks back to 25-20 and the first quarter concluded with Peristeri ahead 27-24.
Peristeri captain Manolis Papamakarios, just returned after a serious injury, committed four personal fouls in eleven minutes trying to stop Erdenay, who gave Ulker its first lead, 33-34 after 13 minutes of play. Things pretty much stayed that way through the next five minutes, until Ulker could inch out to a four-point lead 41-45. Peristeri was only able to shave a point off of that in the final two minutes, so the visitors took a 44-47 edge to the lockerroom. By that time Dinkins was the best scorer of the game, with 14 points, followed by Panatazopoulos (12, all but on of those in the first quarter), Erdenay (11) and Lollis, Acic and Tsartsaris (8 each).
Led by Bud Eley and enjoying its superiority under the boards - especially on the offensive glass - Ulker managed to take a seven-point lead, 51-58, shortly after halftime. That made nearly 200 supporters of the Turkish team in the stands cheer even louder. After a technical foul called to Peristeri' coach Argyris Pedoulakis, in the 27th minute, Ulker led by 56-63, but the Greeks didn't give up. Despite the fact that Ulker had kept Adam Wojcik under wraps, Peristeri was too tough to give up now. Papamakarios came up big in both defense and offense and Peristeri, with a 10-0 run, took the lead 66-63. Only a three-point goal made by Erdenay stopped the Ulker bleeding and tied the game 66-66 at the conclusion of the third period.
The fourth quarter would belong absolutely to Ulker, however, as it dominated the game and didn't allow Peristeri any kind of reaction. Erdenay was rellay unstoppable, scoring 20 out of his total 34 points in only ten minutes. He scored against everybody (who tried to play him defense) and nobody, as he scored any time, any way, on any kind of basket. Four minutes before the end of the game, Ulker took an 11-point lead, 72-83, which became the basis of its win. Peristeri tried to return to the game, cutting the deficit to 6 points at 79-85, but it was too late. The win belonged to Ulker, no doubt about it.
Thursday, December 6, 2001
Vassilis Skountis, Athens