Ulker boosted its options to reach the Top 16 from Group C with a valuable 85-95 road win at Pau-Orthez on Thursday. On a night when 23 triples fell between both teams, Ibrahim Kutluay hit 5 of 9 himself to put and keep Ulker in the lead for a victory that could be worth its weight in gold when the regular season ends next month. Ulker's record mproved to just 3-7, but it now has two victories over Pau and and a road win against Montepaschi Siena. All three are tied with 3-7 records for fifth place, which comes with the last automatic Top 16 berth in the group. Kutluay led the six Ulker scores in double digits with 22 points to go with 8 rebounds and 5 assists. Jeff Trepagnier added 16 points, Mirsad Turkcan 15 including 10 of 10 free throws, while Vrbica Stefanov had 13 and 9 assists. Cuneyt Erden came off the bench to hit 3 triples among his 11 points, while Marcus Haislip posted 10 points. For Pau, Lonnie Cooper led the way with 17 points by hitting 5 of 8 triples. Artur Drozdov added 15 points, 13 of them in the third quarter, Brooks Sales had 14 and Thierry Gadou 12.
A fine turnaround jumper by Brooks Sales opened the scoring race but a fast 0-4 of Ulker thanks to Vrbica Stefanov and Marcus Haislip put the guests in command. Sales scored again but Ulker rolled to 4-10 as Oguz Savas capped a 2-6 run. Lonnie Cooper stepped up for a personal 5-0 run that pulled Pau within 9-12. The hosts showed an impressive display of physical power but Ulker made up for that with easy options in offense, as Ibrahim Kutluay nailed three free throws for a 11-17 Ulker lead. The defense of the hosts made it hard for Ulker to play static, and at the same time Cooper blasted his second triple but Jeff Trepagnier copied him to make it 16-20 for Ulker.
Haislip opened the second quarter with authority as he dunked on Pau's defense, while Cooper made travelling on the other side. Cuneyt Erden appeared for a new Ulker triple but Sales reached his 10 points from the paint to match him. Trepagnier was on fire from the arc with a new hit, but Pau found the way through Ulker's defense as Jeff Varem scored for 22-28. Fred Fauthoux and Erden traded new triples, and Fauthoux did the same again for 28-31. TJ Lux stole in defense and Xane D'Almeida made it a 1-point game finishing the transition, 30-31. Free throws by Lux and a monster dunk by Varem allowed Pau to jump ahead for the first time since the initial basket, 34-33, until four free throws gave the lead back to Ulker again. However, after a timeout, Cooper found the space to nail a triple that tied the game at 37-37 going into the break.
Drozdov was the protagonist, drilling 5 points in a 7-0 run by Pau to start the second half at 44-37. Turkcan broke the trend from the paint and Stefanov found a triple to balance things again, 44-42. Turkcan also scored his first triple after 5 attempts to give Ulker the lead again, and forcing Pau's timeout, 44-45. Kutluay did the same as his teammate with Pau struggling to find the basket at that point. Drozdov launched Pau again with a basket-plus-free throw but Kutluay found another triple to keep Ulker ahead on a 47-51 score. Drozdov went for his 13th point of the period as Pau pulled within 52-53 again. However, Kutluay accepted the challenge and popped a new three that was answered fast by Gadou. The fast pace of the game didn't slow down as Kutluay popped two more free throws and Erden found Ulker's 10th triple for a 57-63 third quarter score.
Only basket fell for Ulker in the first 3 minutes of the decisive quarter before Kutluay added a triple to give the guests a double-digit lead, 47-58. Pau broke down on offense and Ulker pulled away by 16 points when Kutluay blasted his fifth three-pointer for a 61-77 score. Varem and Gadou teamed up for 5 straight Pau points, and then Gadou took it up on himself to score 4 more to make it 70-79 and 3 minutes to go. A triple by Cooper trimmed the deficit even more, but a series of turnovers gave some advantage to Ulker. Still, Cooper blasted a new three-pointer while falling down to make it a five-point game, 78-83. Stefanov stopped the avalanche with 4 free throws, and Trepagnier added 2 more for a 81-89 score entering the last minute. Drozdov put Pau closer but freethrows by Turkcan and a monster block by Haislip broke the game as Ulker cruised to its third win.
Thursday, January 12, 2006