Elan Bearnais Pau-Orthez keeps all its Top 16 chances alive in Group C and finished 2006 with a wide open smile by thrashing visiting Fenerbahce Ulker 89-67 at home on Thursday. Pau improved to 5-4 and will do no worse than fourth place entering 2007. Meanwhile, Fenerbahce dropped into a danger zone at 2-7, though only two victories off all-important fifth place. Britton Johnsen led the winners with 22 points by making 8 of 10 two-pointers as part of a major dunking exhibition. Michael Wright posted a double-double of 19 points and 11 rebounds, Michael Bauer had 18 points on 4 of 4 two-pointers while C.C. Harrison added 10 for Pau. Omer Onan and Kaspars Kambala each had 13 points while Ibrahim Kutluay had all of his 11 in the second half for Fenerbahce. Johnsen led Pau to a 28-17 lead at the end of the first quarter and the hosts never looked back from that moment. Fenerbahce managed to get within 58-51 late in the third quarter, but Johnsen, Bauer and Wright combined for 18 points in the game-breaking 20-2 run that followed.
Johnsen got Pau rolling with a turnaround jumper and Mirsad Turkcan did the same with a put-back basket for the guests. Oguz Savas showed his post skills with a big basket but a hyperactive Ricardo Greer had 5 points in a 9-0 Pau run in which Johnsen dunked and Aaron Miles hit a driving layup to force a Fenerbahce timeout at 11-4. Onan and Kaspars came off the bench to score immediately for the guests. Onan shined again with a coast-to-coast layup that Wright matched with a put-back basket. Harrison struck from downtown and even when Kambala scored inside, free throws by Wright ignited a new 8-0 Pau run. Johnsen highlighted it with an outstanding dunk and finished it with a layup for Pau's biggest margin yet, 24-12. Turkcan scored inside and Onan hit from downtown, but Johnsen and Wright allowed Pau to keep a 28-17 lead after 10 minutes.
The red-hot Onan tried to ignite Fenerbahce with a three-pointer to start the second quarter, but Harrison beat the guests' 2-3 zone defense with a jumper to keep Pau ahead 30-20. And when Kambala scored inside, Johnsen answered from downtown for an 11-point Pau lead, 33-22. Eddie Basdem tried to change things with a put-back basket and a driving layup to which Kambala added another power basket. Those got Fenerbahce within 35-28, although Bauer dunked and added free throws to keep Pau out of trouble at 39-28. Turkcan came to Fenerbahce's rescue with a fastbreak layup but the guests kept committing turnovers. Harrison hit 3 free throws while Will Solomon hit a six-meter jumper, his first basket. Turkcan banked in a shot but a free throw by Bauer and a three-point play by Wright helped Pau take a 12-point lead, 46-34, into halftime.
As at the start of the game, Johnsen opened the scoring after the break with a jumper and Kutluay replied with a triple for Fenerbahce. Miles answered from downtown and, as the guests lost their way to the basket, scored again to make it 53-37. Onan buried a triple off a Fenerbahce timeout, but Johnsen stole and dunked at 55-40. Rasim Basak stepped up with a three-pointer and soon added free throws to give the guests some hope at 55-45. Kambala followed free throws with a power layup and by the time Basak made foul shots, Fenerbahce was within 58-51. Bauer scored inside just when his team needed it while Xane D'Almeida hit free throws to give Pau some air at 62-51. Damir Mrsic took over with a driving layup and the fed Basak for a dunk, but a corner triple by Bauer allowed Pau to keep a 65-55 margin after three quarters.
Bauer took over with a wild dunk right at the start of the fourth quarter but Kutluay answered with a big three-pointer to keep Fenerbahce alive at 67-58. Kutluay and Mrsic were off-target in crunch time, while Wright shined an off-balanced layup and a three-point play for a 72-60 Pau lead with 6 minutes to go. Wright sealed the win with a layup-plus-free throw as Fenerbahce kept struggling to score when it mattered the most. Bauer helped Pau with a couple of rebounds and a big block on Basdem, while Johnsen shined with a driving layup and an open triple from the top of the key. Everything was said and done in the final 4 minutes, as Pau gave its fans the best Christmas present: a win which get their team closer to its first Top 16 appearance since 2004.
Thursday, December 21, 2006