Some unexpected go-to players united in the closing minutes to lift Ulker to another major Group C win on Wednesday, 66-64 over visiting Panathinaikos in Istanbul. The decision left both teams tied at 3-3, good for at least third place in the group standings. In a game that featured constant lead changes and ties, newly-signed guard David Jackson scored all his 4 points in the final 2 minutes to save Ulker after three of its stars fouled out. The real go-to man for the winners was Serkan Erdogan, who finished with 21 points. Eurelijus Zukauskas added 13 for Ulker, while Kerem Tunceri added 10, including the last go-ahead basket. Panathinaikos got 15 points from Nikos Hatzivrettas, but his last-ditch three-point attempt to win the game missed. Mike Batiste added 12 points, Tracy Murray 11 and Jaka Lakovic 10 for the Greens.
Zukauskas and Glover put Ulker ahead with inside baskets to open the game, but it soon became clear that a close game was coming. Hatzivrettas from the arc and Batiste from outside supplied the first Panathinaikos lead, 4-5, and it went back and forth from there. Zukauskas remained the hosts' focus as he added 2 more baskets for a 10-7 Ulker lead, but again Hatzivrettas shot the Greens in front, 10-12, from downtown. Two more ties passed before Virginijus Praskevicius dunked for a 16-14 Ulker advantage, but Batiste blasted a triple now to erase it. Serkan Erdogan had the last word, however, with Ulker's first three-point shot, good for a 19-17 edge after 10 minutes.
The Panathinaikos defense ruled early in the second quarter, blanking Ulker's scorers for 4 full minutes while Hatzivrettas, Kostas Tsartsaris and Jaka Lakovic regained the lead at 19-23. Then, just as before, the tables turned with a 7-1 Ulker run to a 26-24 lead. Erdogan scored the last 5 points of that spurt, including his second triple, but Murray answered with his own long-distance shot to signal a 0-7 response from the visitors. By the time Batiste scored on a layup, the Greens were back in front, 26-31. Kerem Gonlum got a basket back for Ulker, but Panathinaikos marched to the lockers with a 28-31 edge.
Murray jump-started the second half with a three-point bomb good for the biggest lead yet, 28-34, but Panathinaikos could not hold that one, either. Kerem Tunceri's triple highlightes a 6-0 Ulker response that forged a 34-34 tie when Glover scored in close. Dimitris Diamantidis and Tunceri exchange three-point baskets-plus-free throws before Batiste blasted a shot from the arc for a 37-40 Panathinaikos lead. Murry popped a jumper and Tsartsaris dunked for a new high lead of 37-44 for the Greens, but Tunceri ended a two-minute Ulker scoring drought at the line and Erdogan rained his third triple to get the hosts within 42-44. After a Lakovic three-pointer, Erdogan added 2 from the line to limit the Panathinaikos lead to 46-49 after 30 minutes.
Only free throws fell in the fourth quarter until Zukauskas dropped a layup and Gonlum dunked to put Ulker in front again, 52-51. Panathinaikos went to Hatzivrettas, who took back the lead with a triple. Ulker was down 56-59 with little more than 3 minutes left when Erdogan hit 4 consecutive free throws to reclaim an Ulker lead. No sooner had he done that, however, than Murray answered with his third three-pointer for a 60-62 Panathinaikos lead. Fouls were altering the landscape now, with Zukauskas, Stombergas and Glover out with five each for Ulker. But in the next-to-last minute, newcomer David Jackson stepped up with the go-ahead triple for a 63-62 Ulker lead. Lakovic, with 2 free throws, took it back for Panthinaikos, but Tunceri made a driving basket on the next possession. Panathinaikos would not score again. Ulker's defense held until Jackson hit 1 of 2 free throws for a 66-64 advantage, and then the last, game-winning triple attempt by Hatzivrettas fell away, giving the hosts and their fans something to celebrate.
Wednesday, December 8, 2004