Fenerbahce Ulker yanked itself back into the Top 16 race in Group C with a 70-83 road win at last-place Zalgiris, eliminating Lithuania's sole Euroleague team from continuing beyond the regular season. Fenerbahce rallied behind Will Solomon's second-half scoring splurge to break open what had been a close game at intermission and cruise to victory. Fenerbahce raised its record to 4-7, within one win of fifth-place Aris, although having lost twice to the Greek team, would need to pass it in the win column. Solomon led the winners with 19 points, all but 2 of them in the second half. Kaspars Kambala poured in 18, while Damir Mrsic and Eddie Basen put up 10 each. Jonas Maciulis paced Zalgiris with 21 points. Tanoka Beard registered a double-double of 17 points and 13 rebounds, while Mantas Kalnietis scored 10 for the hosts.
The scoring started with a basket on penetration by Maciulis that Clark copied him on the other end for Fenerbahce. Maciulis then drove by Ibrahim Kutluay and hammered two-handed dunk while Beard added mid-range jumper off the glass. Clark connected from the downtown and then Kaspars Kambala gave Ulker its first lead, 6-7. Maciulis was still on fire and soon had 6 points himself. Paulius Jankunas added a triple as Zalgiris regained the lead at 11-9. Beard and Kambala exchanged baskets, but Damir Mrsic and Semih Erden combined for Fenerbahce's last 6 points of the quarter, lifting the visitors ahead by 15-19.
Zalgiris started second quarter with aggressive man-to-man defense and it paid off with a steal by Vidas Ginevicius that led to a fadeaway jumper from Jankunas. Eddie Basden had painful collision with Maciulis but it didn't stoped him from nice driving basket that initiated a 2-8 run that vaulted Fenerbahce to a double-digit lead, 17-27. Zalgiris took a timeout and returned more aggresive and fast as Marcelinho Machado made pair of free throws and Mantas Kalnietis brought the hosts back within 21-27 with high-flying dunk off his own steal. After Erden rejected his shot inside, Hanno Mottola' picked up back-to-back fouls in 15 seconds, while Will Solomon of Fenerbahce hit his first basket of the game. Zalgiris steadied, however, as Beard had 5 points on a pair of baskets, one of which came with a free throw, while Maciulis downed a jumper off the dribble. Zalgiris ran another nice play when Maciulis fed Kalnietis, reducing the gap to 30-35. After Mrsic missed free throws, Maciulis made his at 32-35, but Kambala broke the spell for Fenerbahce with a layup in close. Zalgiris got its triple now, with Kirk Penney coming off a screen to tie. Clark tried to keep Fenerbahce ahead with free throws but the last shot of the half was Beard's layup to tie 39-39 at the break.
Zalgiris started the second half with 3 consecutive turnovers before Machado charged up the crowd with triple and Maciulis added a layup. It was a wake-up call for Solomon, who put Fenerbahce on his back with 8 points. Red-hot Maciulis made free throws but Solomon did him one better with another shot from downtwon. Kalnietis moved fast with the ball and found Beard wide open inside for another basket, but then the points dried up for the hosts during 2 minutes. Fenerbahce, meanwhile, answered with 6 points behind Kambala and Solomon. After a Zalgiris timeout, Mottola rained a shot from the the arc, but Fenerbahce countered by pushing the ball inside to Kambala, who forced a foul on Beard and made both free throws. Kalnietis sparked late Zalgiris comeback with an assist to Beard and a nice coast-to-coast layup that got the hosts within 52-57 after 30 minutes.
Fenerbahce looked to its captain to put the game away early in the final quarter, and Ibrahim Kutluay obliged by pouring in his only 8 points of the game consecutively. Zalgiris, however, went scoreless for more than 3 minutes until Maciulis downed a fastbreak dunk and a triple to keep hope alive. Those hopes faded as Solomon punished the Zalgiris perimeter defense with a jumper and Basdem copied him to make it 64-77. After Kalnietis put back an offenseive rebound and Machado made free throws, Zalgiris got as close as 69-77. Beard drew Kambala's fourth foul and made 1 of 2 free throws, but even as time was running out on a Zalgiris comeback attempt, Mrsic and Solomon made sure with a triple each to seal a solid road victory for Fenerbahce.
Thursday, January 11, 2007