Aris TT Bank started the second half of the regular season with its all-important first road win in Group C by outlasting Fenerbahce Ulker 80-86 in Istanbul on Thursday. Aris evened its record at 4-4 and could share a tie for third place before the week is over. Fenerbahce fell to 2-6 and must start winning consistently to survive now. Mike Wilkinson dominated inside from start to finish, collecting 24 points on 9-for-11 two-point shooting plus 4 rebounds and 5 assists to lead Aris. The teams were locked in a close game until midway through the third quarter when Terrell Castle hit the first 2 of 5 Aris triples in as many minutes to break the game open. Jeremiah Massey followed with 15 points for the winners, while Savvas Iliadis scored all 12 of his in the final quarter. Castle and Alex Scales added 10 apiece for Aris. Fenerbahce got 22 points from Ibrahim Kutluay, 16 from Willie Solomon, who returned from injury, and 12 from Damir Mrsic.
Both teams started by looking to anchor their games in the paint. Wilkinson and Massey combined for all the visitors' points as Aris shot ahead 6-11. Kambala was doing all of Fenerbahce's scoring by himself until Kutluay raised up from the arc on consecutive possessions and landed both shots to vault the hosts to their first lead, 12-11. Kambala boosted that to 14-11 before Scales buried a first triple for Aris, which sparked a 0-7 run including a dunk by Massey and a jumper by Wilkinson. Scales would end the quarter with another jumper as Aris established a 19-23 edge after 10 minutes.
Solomon, back after three games injured, joinded with Omer Onan to quickly tie the score, 23-23, for Fenerbahce in the second quarter. Then, Solomon's three-pointer took back the lead at 26-25. Scales replied with a high-flying baseline dunk came to put Aris ahead again, but otherwise the defenses were not allowing any easy points now. Kutluay found a three-point layup-plus-free throw to which Ira Clark added a jumper as Fenerbahce went up 31-27. Mrsic soon added 5 points in a row for the high lead of the hosts, 34-29, before Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf and Simonas Serapinas helped Aris recover. Their 6 points combined and a dunk by Massey got the guests within 36-35. Even though Kutluay buried a triple for Fenerbahce then, Abdul-Rauf and Serapinas - split the last 4 points before halftime to forge a 39-39 tie at the break.
Wilkinson and Massey again got things going for Aris after halftime, but they were matched by Mirsad Turkcan, Mrsic and Kambala as the defenses dominated and the score remained tied 45-45 after 25 minutes. There was no indication that shots were about to fall. Castle broke the standoff with a huge triple, and when Mrsic answered immediately from the other arc, Castle blasted another. He was copied by Scales from the corner a couple of possessions later and suddenly Aris was in charge at 48-54. Kutluay tried to stop the bleeding for Fenerbahce, but Giorgos Sigalas joined the Aris three-point shooting binge to make it 50-57. Kutluay and Solomon fought back for Fenerbahce, but suddenly it was Wilkinson setting up on the arc to land the fifth triple in as many minutes for the visitors. When Massey dropped a hook to finish the quarter off, Aris was in front 56-62 after 30 minutes.
As they did in previous quarters, Wilkinson and Massey got Aris started in the fourth, combining for 6 points and a lead of 61-68. Now, however, they were joined by Iliadis, who buried a jump shot and then returned for a triple and 2 free throws to make Aris soar ahead 63-75, the game's first double-digit lead. Fenerbahce turned to zone defense and a small lineup, but were only able to chip at the lead for a few minutes until another Iliadis layup made it 69-79. Big man Oguz Savas came off the bench trying to inspire Fenerbahce with a pair of late baskets. He made the free throw that came with the second of them, and then Mrsic added 2 more from the line, cutting the Aris edge to 78-83. But that was as close as Fenerbahce would get as Castle and Iliadis made 3 of 4 free throws down the stretch to preserve their team's first Euroleague road victory!
Wednesday, December 13, 2006