In one of the biggest comebacks ever in the Top 16, Pamesa Valencia overcame a 19-point deficit in the second half to leave Istanbul with a 77-81 Group G victory over Ulker on Wednesday. From a 51-32 deficit with Ulker dominating in the second half, Alejandro Montecchia and Fabricio Oberto led Pamesa back on a miraculous 1-25 run that turned the game completely around in a matter of just 5 mintues. The victory balanced Pamesa's record in Group G at 1-1, while Ulker fell to last place after dropping to 0-2, with both losses at home. Oberto led the winners with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Three players scored 15 points each to lead Pamesa: Robert Pack, Montecchia and Dejan Tomasevic, who also had a double-double with 10 rebounds. For Ulker, Ibrahim Kutluay was huge with 31 points including 5 of 6 triples, and Petar Naumoski added 15 points.
Pamesa had a fast start to the game, jumping ahead first to 2-7 and later to a 6-12 lead just 3 minutes after tipoff as Montecchia and Antoine Rigadeau got to the basket. But Rigaudeau soon drew his third foul and had to sit. Ulker got going then with a 7-0 run behind Kutluay and Joseph Blair for its first lead of the game at 13-12 in minute 5. A triple by Montecchia launched the guests ahead one more time, 15-17, but Ulker tried to break the balance of Pamesa's offensive attempts by making changes on defense when young center Fatih Solak stepped on court to replace Efthimios Rentzias. First, Ulker played man-to-man, then switched to a zone pressure, then turned to a half-court zone finally and led at the end of the first quarter by 22-20.
Solak, who found himself on the court due to the absence of injured forward Kerem Gonlum, was the key to Ulker's good defense. He closed the paint to his rivals and fired his team with blocks and a dunk later in the second quarter. Pamesa struggled against the zone defense and was only able to put in 12 points against the 23 points of Ulker in the second quarter. Kutluay's three-pointer in minute 17 streched the difference to 11 points, 41-30, for Ulker. Serkan Erdogan's jump shot a minute later made it 43-30. Pamesa's turnovers continued in the last 5 minutes of the second quarter and allowed Ulker to create fastbreaks. In the last minute before halftime, Oberto answered the dunk of Solak and the first half finished with Ulker leading by 13 points, 45-32.
Kutluay and Serkan Erdogan started the third period with successive three-pointers to increase the Ulker gap to 19 points, 51-32, in the 21st minute. But the game had just started for Pamesa. The Spanish team took off on an unbelievable 1-25 run from the 23rd minute to the 28th minute to come back and take the lead once again. Oberto, Tomasevic and Montecchia took Pamesa on their backs and carried it, play by play, into the lead. Ulker had many turnovers and missed attempts combined and started to vanish on court as the game went by. Montecchia's three-pointer in minute 26 tied the game, 51-51, and after a Kutluay free throw, Rigadeau's layup gave the first lead to Pamesa after a long time, 52-53. Then, Pamesa controlled the game very well by playing tough defense to stop especially the outside shooters of Ulker and managed to lead at the end of the third quarter 56-59.
Ulker got the lead back at the beginning of the last quarter with more Kutluay points. His triple in minute 32 capped a 5-0 run and made the score 61-59. But Pamesa answered immediately with Pack and Montecchia while Tomasevic started to work inside with Oberto. In minute 37, Tomasevic's three-point play increased the Pamesa lead to 7 points, 66-73. Naumoski scored 5 straight points, including a three-pointer, to reduce the difference to 71-73, but this was the last try for Ulker to catch Pamesa. Pack bagged most of the rest of the points for his team and the tactical fouls didn't change anything for the home team. Pamesa stayed alive after the big clash in Istanbul: 77-81.
Wednesday, March 10, 2004
Gokhan Ture, Istanbul