Ulker broke its three-game losing streak in Group C by downing Montepaschi 70-74 on the road in Siena, Italy on Wednesday in what practically a must-win game for the visitors. Ulker lifted its record to 2-5 and is now sixth in the Group C standings, while Montepaschi is fifth at 3-4. Mirsad Turkcan led the winners with a double-double of 21 points and 15 rebounds. Marcus Haislip added 17 points and 4 blocks while Ibrahim Kutluay scored 14 points for Ulker. Rimantas Kaukenas had 21 points for Montepaschi, all in the opening three periods, while Andrea Pecile and Duane Woodward each added 11. Montepaschi welcomed back three of the Montepaschi squad which reached the 2003 Euroleague Final Four and now work for Ulker: head coach Ergin Ataman, Turkcan and Vrbica Stefanov. Kaukenas kept Montepaschi ahead at halftime, 34-28. Kutluay had 7 unanswered points in a 2-14 run that gave Ulker a 39-42 lead but Montepaschi managed to stay ahead 48-47 after 30 minutes. Haislip and Turkcan fueled a 1-10 fourth-quarter run that put Ulker in charge for good.
Woodward got Montepaschi going with a tough drive against Turkcan and added free throws for a 4-0 lead. Turkcan nailed a three-pointer from the top of the key, but Montepaschi pushed the pace to its liking. Vladimir Boisa broke free for a layup, while Kaukenas followed a jumper with a breakaway dunk for a 10-3 lead. Stefanov brought Ulker back to life with a basket-plus-free throw, then a very active Jeff Trepagnier nailed a jumper to bring the guests within 10-8. Trepagnier collected his sixth steal of the quarter and exploded with a fastbreak dunk, then Haislip tied for Ulker at 12-12. Justin Hamilton dunked a steal, Woodward nailed a three and Pecile added another fastbreak layup for a 19-14 Montepaschi lead after 10 minutes.
Pecile boosted Montepaschi with an amazing fadeaway in the paint to start the second quarter, but Turkcan soon hustled for an offensive rebound and scored to bring Ulker within 21-19. Kaukenas returned and soon downed a fastbreak layup, while Ben Eze did the dirty work for the hosts, battling the whole Ulker frontcourt. Kaukenas stayed active, drawing a pair of shooting fouls and making all 4 free throws, while Luigi Datome dunked it for a 31-23 Montepaschi lead. Ulker tried to change the momentum with both Haislip and Oguz Savas on court. Haislip started to find his rhythm in the low post and drew fouls that kept Ulker close. Stefanov hit a coast-to-coast layup, but Boisa dunked to keep Montepaschi in charge, 34-28, at halftime.
To open the second half, Kaukenas fired in a triple that gave Montepaschi a nine-point lead at 37-28. It didn't last long, however, as Ulker played with a different attitude, as Turkcan worked to put in a layup and suddenly Kutluay woke up. He followed an elegant three-pointer with back-to-back layups to tie, 37-37, after a 0-9 run. Woodward tried to change things with a jumper, but Turkcan scored around the basket and then sank a shot from downtown to give Ulker its first lead, 39-42. Montepaschi tried to react with a fastbreak layup by Kaukenas, but Turkcan - who else? - answered with a basket-plus-free throw, good for a 41-47 Ulker lead. Just when Ulker seemed to dominate the momentum, a three-pointer by Kaukenas ignited a 7-1 run that Roberto Chiacig finished with a layup to gave Montepaschi a 48-47 lead after 30 minutes.
Marcelo Nicola fired in a triple and Kutluay overheated the atmosphere by answering him from downtown to start the final quarter. Turkcan soon added a layup to give Ulker a 52-53 edge, but Nicola matched that with a five-meter jumper. Haislip provided one of the highlghts of the game with a high-flying dunk, while Montepaschi went scoreless for more than 2 minutes. Meanwhile, Turkcan sank a jumper and Kutluay made free throws to give Ulker a 55-59 lead. Trepagnier capped a 1-10 run with a double-pump layup, good for a 55-63 margin, but Montepaschi was not done. Boisa brought the hosts back to life with consecutive jumpers while Shaun Stonerook added a put-back basket to cut the difference to 61-65 with 2 minutes to go. Pecile drilled the three-pointer to drop the gap to a single point, 64-65, but Haislip answered with a jumper. Stonerook and Kutluay exchanged free throws, but when Kaukenas missed twice from downtown and Boisa also missed free throws, at 66-69, Stefanov put the victory on ice from the line. Finally, Drago Pasalic dunked to seal a well-deserved Ulker win in style.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005