On paper this should have been an easy win over a mediocre Turkish team. But, so it seems, life at the Top 16, is very hard.
Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv of the 2005/06 season, wakes up only after falling badly behind. This happens several times this season and this evening it broke new records.
Maccabi opened with Derrick Sharp & Yaniv Green in the staring five and led 7-6. But after Will Solomon $ Jamie Arnold missed four free throws in a row, Ulker had a 28-22 lead at the end of the first quarter. Three minutes into the second period, The Turk opened an 18 pts lead 42-24. The visitors shot brilliantly from behind the arc and got easy points after a series of turnovers by the home team.
And then suddenly everything changed. Maccabi tightened its defense and ran like mad scoring 22 pts to only 7 by Ulker to make the half time score 49-46 for the Istanbul team.
Maccabi won the third period 15-13 and were hust one point down (61-62). Maceo Baston gave the Yellows their first lead (63-62) since the third minute, at the start of the final period. Captain Ibrahim Kutluay connected with his fifth three pointer to make it 65-65. But by now the game was under Pini Gershon`s team control. They got to 82-68 and the final score 84-74.
Maccabi`s excellent defense in the second half, made the difference stopping the visitors on 25 pts in comparison to 49 in the first half. Ulker scored 7 three pointers in the first half but made only 2-13 in the second. Maccabi ended the gane with 55% FG to Ulker`s 39%. Maccabi had another poor night from the line (62%), won the rebounds 38-30 but had 17 turnovers to Ulker`s 13.
Once again Maccabi missed one of their key players when Tal Burstein suffered a muscle strain in his right leg in the first quarter, tried several times to return without success.Another dull evening for Nikola Vjcicwith 6 pts, 2 rbds and 4 turnovers in 24 minutes.
Jamie Arnold was called in and played his best game in Maccabi colours – 20 min, 20 pts & 10 rbds. Will Solomon, still complaining of pain in his injured hand, was also at his best with 19 pts, 7 rbds, 2 asts and 1 blocked shot in 31minutes.
Other Maccabi scorers: Parker 13 pts, 7 asts & 5 rbds, Baston 9 pts & 5 rbds, Sharp 8 pts & 3 asts, Green 6, Penney 3 pts.
Top scorers for Ulker: Kutluay 23 pts, 5 rbds asts, Haislip 14 pts & 11 rbds, Trepagnier & 4
Stefanov 11 pts each.