Another Group C team advanced to the Top 16 as Wednesday as Real Madrid managed to defeat Ulker in Istanbul by 75-79. The win lifted Madrid to a 7-4 record and assured that it can finish no lower than fifth place. Ulker drops to 3-8 and has it harder to reach the Top 16 after losing its fourth home game of the season. Madrid started the game well, dominating thanks to several open three-pointers, but Ibrahim Kutluay rallied Ulker to take the lead at halftime. Ulker, playing without injured forward Mirsad Turkcan, maintained its options into the final minutes, but in the last one, Louis Bullock posted 6 of his 27 points from the free throw line without missing to preserve Madrid's victory. Mickael Gelabale helped Bullock with his 14 points for Real Madrid. Axel Hervelle added 12 and Igor Rakocevic 10 for the winners. For Ulker, Robert Gulyas dominated the paint with 24 points. Marcus Haislip backed him with 20 points and Ibrahim Kutluay made 4 of 9 triples for 17 points.
A single basket by Venson Hamilton for Madrid were the only points in the game's first 3 minutes. Felipe Reyes added a three-point play as the guests took a 0-5 lead. Vrbica Stefanov finally scored Ulker's first basket, but the defenses were ruling on both ends of the court. Ulker started to solve its offensive problems when Gulyas came on court and got the hosts within 4-5. Bullock answered with a fast three-pointer, to which Hamilton added a free throw to make it 4-9. Ulker relied on its frontcourt to get going, but Rakocevic blasted a new triple to preserve Madrid's lead. The first quarter finished with Bullock at the line, putting the guests ahead by 5 points ahead after 10 defensive minutes, 8-13.
Jeff Trepagnier fed Marcus Haislip for a dunk in traffic to open the second quarter, but Axel Hervelle answered with a triple for Madrid to quiet the crowd. Gulyas and Trepagnier launched Ulker with fast baskets inside to pull within 14-16 in less than a minute, however, and Bullock had to score again to save Madrid from losing the lead. Ulker closed its defense in the paint, but that allowed Mous Sonko to find a triple from the side. Gulyas continued as Ulker's top gun, putting back a rebound to make it 16-21, but Madrid kept finding open triples. Sonko and Rakocevic nailed Madrid's sixth shots from the arc in 9 attempts to boost the lead to 19-29. Ibrahim Kutluay finally nailed Ulker's first three after 7 attempts and soon added another one for a 29-31 score to cap an 8-0 run. Three more free throws by Kutluay put Ulker ahead for the first time, 32-31, as he had a personal 9-0 run against the guests as the game went to halftime.
Points by Gulyas and a three-point play by Haislip allowed Ulker to open a little gap as Reyes trimmed it with a free throw for a 37-34. Gulyas was consistent for Ulker in the paint, but Bullock blasted a new triple for Madrid and Rakocevic put back an offensive rebound to tie the game again, 39-39. Mickael Gelabale slammed to put Madrid ahead again, and Bullock confirmed that with four straight points to launch Madrid. Ulker struggled in offense now, as it collected a couple of turnovers that allowed the guests to have several options in offense as Hervelle nailed free throws for 42-49. Drago Pasalic found the space for an Ulker triple as the quarter entered the last minute, and Hasilip put an end to the period with a layup for 47-49.
Between Gulyas and Haislip launched Ulker to start the last period, but Hervelle popped his second triple to reply. Gulyas didn't lose a second and found a clean 5-meter jumper that pulled the hosts within one point, 55-56, but two new triples fell for Madrid from the hands of Bullock for 55-62. Real Madrid tried it all to stop Gulyas, but the big man reached his 23rd point for a 59-62 Madrid edge until Gelabale started a personal 6th point streak to erase free throws by Trepagnier and Gulyas as Real Madrid had a 6-point cushion, 62-68. Kutluay stepped up from 7 meters to score a big three-point shot, but the guests were careful with the offensive rebounds to control the tempo of the final minutes. Gelabale was cold from the line, but Trepagnier answered with his fast triple as the game entered the last minute. Ulker looked for the last chance as Haislipr slammed back a missed triple by Trepagnier with 20 seconds to go and a 70-73 score, but Bullock hit six straight attempts from the line leaving the hosts on the edge, despite Kutluay's desperate three, and putting Real Madrid in the Top 16.
Wednesday, January 18, 2006