Two teams that had yet to do so beforehand proved Tuesday what getting a victory in the ULEB Cup means to them. Darussafaka and Adecco Estudiantes battled through two overtimes and 50 minutes of tight scores in Istanbul before the Spanish side was able to prevail 95-102 in Group C. Nikola Loncar scored 4 consecutive points in the last minute of the second overtime to separate two teams that had been locked together most of the game. Loncar finished with 20 points to lead the visitors in victory, while Felipe Reyes posted 17, Carlos Jimenez 16 and Nacho Azofra 14. Estudiantes raised its record to 1-2 while Darussafak was left behind at 0-3 in last place. The loss was particularly hard since Darussafaka got the big game it was waiting for from shooter Ufuk Sarica, who lead all scorers with 31 points. Acie Earl added a double-double of 21 points and 11 rebounds, while Leonid Yailo tallied 13 more.
The Spanish side had a good defensive game in the first quarter to stop the scorers of Darussafaka, all except Earl. Estudiantes went ahead early 2-9 on a drive by Reyes, and though free throws by Lailo got Darussafaka back withinn 8-11, the visitors were able to maintain their pace until finishing the first quarter ahead 15-22. In the second quarter, the man Darussafaka fans had been waiting for, Sarica, joined Earl, who was already on 12 points in the first 15 minutes. Sarica scored a three-pointer to give the locals their first lead 29-26, but Estudiantes answered with a 0-9 run that pushed the visitors ahead 35-38 at the half. Earl almost had a double-double already with 12 points and 9 rebounds, while Sarica had 10 points. At Estudiantes, both Hernan Jasen and Nacho Azofra had scored 8 points.
In the third period, Darussafaka seemed better organized on offense, and Sarica kept scoring. But it was Earl who hit a three-pointer to return the lead to Darussafaka at 47-45. In this game, it was already clear that neither team was going to give up the fight. Estudiantes took control of the match in the remaining 5 minutes of the quarter, and a Rafa Vidaurreta three-point play gave them the lead once again, at 57-58, after 30 minutes. In the fourth quarter, the visitors extended that lead to 6 points, 57-63, on another inside shot by Vidaurreta, but then Darussafaka registered a 10-0 run that Sarica punctuated with a three-pointer for a 67-63 lead in the 35th minute. From there, the game turned on three-pointers and free throws. Loncar was the one who would deny the home team the win and send the game to overtime on a fastbreak layup with 6 seconds left in regulation time, which after Derek Grimm's miss for Darussafaka, ended 78-78.
The first overtime was more of the same, two teams trying to win with all their potential, but the equality between them never breaking down. Young forward Erdem Turetken levelled the score 7 seconds before the end, 86-86, and they went to the second overtime. There, it was also dead close until the final 40 seconds, when a basket by Loncar made it 95-98. Some 20 seconds later, Loncar was at the line to extend the lead by 2 points, before Azofra made sure, scoring the last basket to end the 50-minute battle.
Tuesday, October 29, 2002