Ulker registered its first Top 16 win in Group E and thus stays in the fight to make it to the Quarterfinal Playoffs by beating Climamio Bologna 84-80 at home in Istanbul, Turkey on Thursday night. Both teams now tie for the third place in Group E with 2-2 records, but Climamio holds the tie-break advantage due to a 87-69 home win in the Top 16 opener for both teams. Ibrahim Kutluay led the winners with 25 points on 6 of 11 three-pointers, while Mirsad Turkcan and Oguz Savas each had 15 for Ulker. Vrbica Stefanov of Ulker set a Top 16 record with 12 assists, while Jeff Trepagnier added 10 points for the hosts, including 3 of 4 free throws in the final 11 seconds to seal the win. Marco Belinelli led six Climamio players in double digits with 13 points. Travis Watson and Dalibor Bagaric each added 12 points, while Erazem Lorbek, Sani Becirovic and Nate Green added 10 apiece for the guests. Kutluay hit 5 of his three-pointers among 17 points in the second quarter to help Ulker to a 46-31 halftime lead. Climamio rallied to within 71-70 with under 3 minutes to go, but Kutluay and Turkcan scored from downtown before Trepagnier finished the hosts' job from the foul line.
Ulker had a very strong start to the game, as an easy layup by Vrbica Stefanov ignited a 9-2 opening that Turkcan capped with a three-pointer from the top of the key. Tomas Ress tried to change things with a jumper, but Robert Gulyas matched it at the other end to keep Ulker ahead 11-4. Climamio head coach Jasmin Repesa used as many as nine players in the opening 7 minutes, trying to keep a high tempo. Soon, Dalibor Bagaric joined Ress to fuel a 0-6 Climamio run that Sani Becirovic capped with a six-meter jumper, bringing the guests within 11-10. The didn't last long, however, as Omer Onan scored inside while Trepganier shined with a layup off a steal and a corner three which forced a Climamio timeout at 18-10. Travis Watson and Stefanov exchanged baskets in the final minute of this period to fix the score at 20-12 after 10 minutes.
Kutluay checked into the game for the second quarter and simply went wild. He started his shooting exhibition with a three-pointer that gave Ulker a 23-14 lead. Erazem Lorbek and Savas exchanged free throws, while a three-point play by Nate Green brought Climamio as close as 25-18. But not for long. Stefanov fed Savas for a basket-plus-free throw while Kutluay took over with consecutive bombs from downtown that made it a 15-point game, 34-19. Marcus Haislip capped an 11-0 Ulker run with free throws on Lorbek's third foul. Just in time, Bagaric and Becirovic filled a 0-6 run tht gave Climamio some hope at 36-25, but Kutluay - who else? - buried another pair of shots from the arc and added free throws to send Ulker soaring ahead, 45-28. A second-chance layup by Watson and a free throw by Kiwane Garris brought Climamio within 46-31 at halftime.
Climamio started the third quarter with consecutive jumpers from Belinelli. Turkcan fed Savas for a layup and then exchanged baskets with Bagaric, but Belinelli nailed a seven-meter three-pointer from the top to bring Climamio within 50-40. Savas showed his post skills, but Bagaric answered with a huge dunk that Onan erased with a layup in the other end. Savas stayed hot with a four-meter baseline jumper while Turkcan provided a highlight with a two-handed dunk coming off the baseline, good for a 60-46 Ulker margin. Savas followed a great basket in the low post with a dunk of his own, but Climamio was not done. Watson hit a turnaround jumper that Garris followed with a three-pointer to ignite a 2-12 blast for the visitors that featured another bomb from downtown by Belinelli. Yakhouba Diawara capped the run for Climamio with a dunk for a that made it 66-60. Kutluay reemerged to hit his classic four-meter jumper andextend Ulker's lead to 68-60 after 30 minutes.
The game turned into a defensive, physical battle early in the last quarter, with both teams feeling the pressure. Belinelli hit a big triple from the top of the key, forcing Ulker coach Ergin Ataman to bring Trepagnier back on court for defense. Gulyas dunked for Ulker, then both teams went silent for 2 minutes until Green scored from downtown to make it a four-point game, 70-66. Turkcan made 1 of 2 free throws but Lorbek's tip-in brought Climamio even closer, 71-68, midway through the final period. After Turkcan stepped out of bounds right before hitting a triple, Lorbek dunked to trim the difference to 71-70. Then Kutluay reappeared for crunch time with a critical bomb from downtown with 2:25 to go. Watson dunked for the visitors, but Turkcan hit another corner triple for a 80-74 Ulker lead with 48 seconds remaining. Lorbek made a long two-pointer that Green followed with a quick layup to give Climamio some hope at 81-79. But Trepagnier sealed the win for 3 of 4 free throws in the final 11 seconds, enough for Ulker to keep its playoff dreams alive.
Thursday, March 16, 2006