On a day that began with a fire that damaged parts of its arena away from the playing floor and seating area, Pau-Orthez finished Wednesday by putting a spark to its Top 16 aspirations with a last-second 82-80 victory over visiting Ulker in Group C. A reverse layup by center Julius Nwosu at the buzzer sent the fans home cheering and improved Pau's record to 3-6, good for a piece of sixth place. Nwosu's shot broke Ulker's four-game winning streak, as the guests dropped to 5-4 and a tie for second place with Panathinaikos and Benetton. Down by double digits midway through the third quarter, Pau used a 20-4 run that extended into the final one to get back in the game and set up the dramatic victory. Mire Chatman led the winners with 25 points on 10-for-17 shooting, 6 rebounds and 8 assists. Thierry Rupert added 19 points on 7-for-8 shooting and 8 rebounds, while T.J. Lux had 13 off the bench for Pau. Eurelijus Zukauskas led Ulker with 18 points on 8-for-8 shooting. Serkan Erdogan added 17 points, Saulius Stombergas 15, Kerem Gonlum 12 and 11 rebounds while Kerem Tunceri had 10 points.
Both teams started the game with strong man-to-man defense. Chatman was the only player to score in the opening 2 minutes, then Foirest followed his short jumper with a floating layup for a 4-0 Pau lead. Zukauskas fired back with back-to-back layups and Stombergas added a fallaway jumper to tie 6-6. Nwosu was the man for Pau, drilling consecutive mid-range jumpers, while a breakaway dunk by Chatman gave the hosts a 10-6 lead. It didn't last long, however, as Stombergas drilled a three and Gonlum dunked for a 10-11 Ulker edge. Rupert scored twice inside for Pau, but then the hosts went scoreless for 3 minutes as Ulker made a 0-7 run capped by Glover's corner triple. Free throws by Nwosu and Foirest cut Ulker's advantage to 17-18 after 10 minutes.
Ulker tried to break the game early in the second quarter, as Tunceri and Glover slashed to the basket for a 17-23 lead. Chatman stepped up with 4 quick points to bring the hosts within 21-23, but Ulker started to dominate the offensive rebounds and look for Zukauskas in the middle. He had 3 points in a 0-6 run capped by Erdogan's three-pointer. Ulker had its biggest margin so far, 21-29. After a Pau timeout, Chatman nailed a three-pointer and bring Pau within 27-31. Erdogan rescued Ulker with a jumper and free throws for a 29-37 edge. After a carousel of free throws, Lux's tip-in and a bomb from downtown by Artur Drozdov brought Pau within 36-38 at halftime.
Soon after the break, Pau tied 40-40 on jumpers by Rupert and Foirest made Pau, but Ulker didn't panic. Zukauskas scored inside and assisted Erdogan's tough three-pointer for a 40-45 score. Chatman answered from downtown, however, and Lux added a three-point play to bring Pau within 48-49. Ulker continued to score easily, as Gonlum dunked it and Erdogan fired in his third three for a 48-54 Ulker edge. Rupert became Pau's only consistent weapon, but he was not enough. Stombergas took over with back-to-back threes to boost Ulker's lead into double digits, at 50-60. Pau called timeout and fired back with a 6-0 run. When Lux scored twice around the basket, Pau was back within 62-64 after 30 minutes and its fans pumped up for the final quarter.
Chatman scored from beyond the arc, then fed Frederic Fauthoux for a corner three and added a put-back layup to finish a 20-4 run that bridged the final two periods and gave Pau a 70-64 lead. After a timeout, free throws by Stombergas and a five-meter jumper by Tunceri kept Ulker in the game at 72-68. Stombergas fouled out soon after that, while Lux stepped up with an inside bucket and a fastbreak layup to boost Pau's margin to 78-70 with less than 4 minutes to go. A layup by Tunceri and a big three by Erdogan brought Ulker within 80-76, forcing a Pau timeout. Free throws by Gonlum and a fast break layup by Tunceri off a midcourt steal completed the Ulker comeback with an 80-80 tie with 6.3 seconds to go. After a non-shooting foul, Pau had time to find Nwosu in the baseline, and he slashed to the basket to make a reverse layup and give Pau its third win of the season in a real thriller!
Wednesday, January 5, 2005