Real Madrid broke its negative streak at home on Thursday, as 4 three-pointers in barely 2 minutes sealed its Group A victory over visiting Ulker Istanbul, 81-77. The win raises Real's record to 2-2 in Group C, while Ulker drops to the same numbers. Alex Mumbru, who made his debut in the Euroleague, was the best man for the hosts with 16 points, while Alain Digbeu added 13 and Derrick Alston 12. For the losers, Melvin Booker nailed 22, Joseph Blait bagged 15 and Harun Erdenay 13.
Ulker showed signs of its options for the win early in the game. With Joe Blair blocked by the defense of Edu Hernandez, the Turkish had to move on to the backcourt game to stop the initial burst of the hosts, 8-3, and take control of the game. Booker, who had only featured a 31 percent in threes in the three previous games, nailed 3 straight three-pointers in barely 2 minutes to change the sign of the game, 8-15 in minute 6. The entrance of Digbeu on court and the efficiency of Alberto Herreros allowed Madrid to finish the first quarter with a short lead, 23-21.
But Ulker knew what it was doing. Its shooters, apart from making their score grow, opened a hole for Blair in the paint, and he took advantage of it. At the break the Turkish team was already ahead by 6 points, 37-43.
Nevertheless, the third quarter wasn't what Ulker expected. The hosts increased their defensive tension and from there, they doubled their offensive options to overcome a dangerous deficit, 39-47 in minute 22, and cluding Ulker's mind, which only managed to score 8 points in the period, 54-51 after 30 minutes
The reaction of the Turkish squad was around the corner though, to the point that by minute 34, the guests were ahead again, 60-62, and Real got nervous. Nevertheless, those nerves were also positive for the hosts, as two threes by Mumbru, a third by Herreros and a fourth by Lucas Victoriano smashed all the options of the rival and boosted Real to its first home win in the Euroleague.
Thursday, October 31, 2002