Fenerbahce Ulker started the Top 16 in style by downing Aris TT Bank 88-96 on the road in Thessaloniki, Greece on Thursday in the Group E opener for both teams. Aris ties Tau Ceramica for the top spot in Group E at 1-0, while Fenerbahce and Lietuvos Rytas are 0-1. Willie Solomon led the winners with 23 points. Emir Preldzic added 13, Semih Erden has 12 while Tarence Kinsey and Damir Kaan each got 10 for Fenerbahce. Jeremiah Massey and Bracey Wright each had 17 points for Aris while Darius Washington and a recovered Reyshawn Terry added 16 apiece. The sellout crowd in Thessaloniki included former Fenerbahce Ulker star Ibrahim Kutluay. Fenerbahce managed to stop Massey in the early going, while Savas, Solomon and a dominant Asik allowed the guests to get a 21-29 lead after 10 minutes. Massey shined in the second quarter, especially in defense, while a 7-0 run that Washington capped with a triple tied it at 39-39. Solomon and Kinsey allowed Fenerbahce to get a 43-50 halftime edge. Kinsey and an outstanding Erden allowed Fenerbahce to get a 51-64 margin midway through the third quarter. Massey and Washington fueled the hosts' comeback, while a close jumper by Giorgios Kalaitzis tied the game, 77-77, with less than 4 minutes to go. Preldzic and Solomon took over in crunch time whole free throws by Kaan sealed the outcome, 82-89, in the final 2 minutes.
The guests from Fenerbahce started the game at full speed and achieved an early lead of 2-6 by exploiting Savas's size under the basket. Darius Washington buried his first triple to bring his team closer but Savas was unstoppable in the first 3 minutes of the game. Aris couldn't find offensive solutions under the rim, while Solomon boosted Fenerbahce's margin all the way to 5-12. Hanno Mottola tried to wake up his team with another triple, but Preldzic kept his team ahead in the midpoint of the quarter forcing Aris to ask for a timeout at 10-14. Nothing changed when both teams came back, as Damir Kaan fired from beyond the arc and Erden netted a jumper to push Fenerbahce up 13-21. Washington answered for Aris by sparking a 6-0 run capped by Wright’s triple, but Onan and Kaan stole and shared successful fastbreaks to give Fenerbahce its biggest lead yet, 19-29, at the close of the first quarter.
Massey decided to take Aris on his shoulders to start the second quarter, isolating against Erdem twice to reduce the difference to 25-29. But despite their efforts, the hosts couldn't close the gap due to James White and Solomon hitting shots from downtown. With his team trailing 29-37, Vladimir Boisa entered the game to give Aris a push. He fired from beyond the arc to start a decisive 10-2 run for Aris capped by another triple by Washington that tied the score 39-39. Fenerbahce reacted strong, taking back the lead as White hit another jumper and Solomon shot twice from the foul line to let the guests take a 43-50 advantage into halftime.
Fenerbahce kept control early in the third quarter with Erden and Solomon contributing to 0-7 run that expanded the lead to 43-57, the highest margin of the night. Terry stood up and managed to keep Aris alive with back-to-back triples and a layup that made it 49-59. Fenerbahce always had an offensive answer, however. so that when Bracey Wright netted a triple to bring his team within 58-67 late in the quarter, Preldzic answered back with 5 points in a row to give fresh air to his team, 60-70, after 30 minutes.
Aris tightened its defense to start the final quarter as Washington and Massey scored to trim the difference to 66-72. Fenerbahce went to a zone defense but Massey kept hurting the guests under the basket, assisting Wright to bring Aris within, 71-74. Solomon and Tsaldaris traded shots from the arc then, but Fenerbahce led until Giorgios Kalaitzis forged the first tie of the second half, 77-77, with 4 minutes left. Preldzic again muted the masses with back-to-back baskets on isolation moves in the lane to give Fenerbahce a small but significant lead, 79-83. Both Kalaitzis and Erden shared trips in the foul line before Solomon stood up and buried the crucial triple of the game at 82-87. Preldzic took it from there, fixing the final outcome at 88-96 for a huge road win by Fenerbahce.
Thursday, February 14, 2008