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NBA Europe Live: Fenerbahce Ulker beats Celtics in debut against NBA
Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul marked its first game against an American opponent with an impressive victory by defeating Boston Celtics 97-91 in the opener of the 2012 NBA Europe Live Tour in Istanbul. Despite playing its fourth game in as many nights, the Turkish powerhouse held on at the end thanks to big games from two of its newest players, All-Euroleague playmaker Bo McCalebb and former champ Romain Sato. McCalebb amassed 21 points and 5 assists and Sato went for 24 points and 7 rebounds. The two even combined for the basket that wrapped up the win. After Jeff Green brought Boston within 3 with just over a minute to go, McCalebb found Sato for an open three-pointer and Boston never scored again. Fenerbahce started strong and led 18-8 before Boston came back to lead by 1 after one quarter. However the hosts soon regained control, led 55-45 at halftime and never trailed again. The result marked the first time Boston had ever lost to a non-American team. Bojan Bogdanovic added 11 points and Oguz Savas scored 10 for the winners. Green and Jared Sullinger scored 16 each to lead Boston and Rajon Rondo contributed 13 points and 9 assists.(See
Boston went inside to Kevin Garnett for the game’s first points, but McCalebb found Sato for a three-pointer soon after. Karaman put a sweet move on Garnett and Omer Onan followed with a big three to make it 8-14. The momentum remained with the hosts as Karaman added 2 more from the line and David Andersen came off the bench to tip in a Sato miss to cap an 11-0 Fenerbahce charge for the game’s first double-digit lead, 18-8. After a TV timeout, Paul Pierce dunked to revive the visitors. Green provided a spark for Boston off the bench as the gap shrunk to 2 before Mike Batiste hit a deep jumper. But a Rondo three-pointer left Boston ahead 26-27 through one quarter.
A Sato jumper to open the second quarter put Fenerbahce Ulker back on top and Bogdanovic followed with a pair of three-pointers to make it 34-29. Both teams heated up from the perimeter and traded threes before a Baris Ermis layup made it 39-35 before Boston called timeout. Sato added a pair of baskets to keep the hosts in control, 43-37, midway through the second quarter. Savas went to work inside, first finishing a pick-and-roll with Ermis and then scoring with a hook. Onan, with a basket-plus-foul, and Sato stretched the Fenerbahce lead to 11. Pierce and Batiste traded free throws as the hosts took a 55-45 lead into the locker room at halftime.
McCalebb darted through the Boston defense to open the second half with a layup. Terry knocked down a three-pointer and Pierce made a fadeaway jumper, but Sato got to the line to keep the hosts rolling. Despite another Terry triple, Onan helped Fener maintain a double-digit lead with a jumper. McCalebb drove again into the paint for a basket-plus foul, which extended the lead to 68-56. The teams started trading baskets as Andersen netted 4 from the line to help Fenerbahce keep a 10-point advantage. Rondo managed to get Boston within 76-70 and after a Bogdanovic triple and a Rondo layup, the score stood at 79-72 with 12 minutes to play.
Sullinger muscled Boston to within 5 on the first possession of the fourth quarters, but the Fenerbahce heroes of the night stepped up once again. Sato nailed a three and McCalebb drove for 2 more to make it 84-74. Courtney Lee answered on the break only to see Preldzic drive for a bucket. Green scored twice to bring the visitors within 88-84 with five minutes to go. But McCalebb went to his patented soaring through the paint move for a basket-and-foul to extend his team’s lead. Green kept Boston in the picture, but Savas matched him with a nifty move in the paint. Green clawed Boston to 94-89 with two-and-a-half minutes left. A minute later, Green applied more pressure with a clutch jumper, however McCalebb found Sato for a big three to keep the hosts up 6 with a minute to play. The Fener defense silenced Boston over the final minute to pick up an impressive 97-91 victory.
Fenerbahce Ulker head coach Simone Pianigiani:
"It was a great experience for both my team and the fans to host one of the legendary teams of NBA, the Boston Celtics. It was great to see the fans and the players and everybody enjoying the game. Honestly, I don't prefer to talk about the game. It's because both teams were not ready for the season and this was not the real face of both sides. What is important to see that there were many children and young people in Ulker Sports Arena tonight, watching this exciting game and show. It was a very special night for me and I'm also proud of to be a part of this great show. It's difficult to compare because of the different rules and different habits, but for sure the level of the players in Europe now and the level of the Euroleague teams are so high now. There is good competition. The level is high in Europe and the fans should recognize [their players] as top players."
Fenerbahce Ulker guard Bo McCalebb:
"The reason I played good tonight is not that the game was televised in the States and it was not who was playing against me, Rajon Rondo. When I play against any good player I try to give my best. It's not personal. And it was a really special night for us after playing a very hard game in the Turkish Cup a day before against Galatasaray Medical Park. We are happy to give our fans a very exciting win."
Fenerbahce Ulker guard Omer Onan:
"It was a great game, a great night for basketball. Especially for Turkey and Turkish basketball. We hosted one of the best teams of the NBA, the Boston Celtics. It was a unique experience. There is nothing too much to say about the game. Both teams were not ready for the new season yet. But the atmosphere was really exciting. I hope we continue to host more NBA teams in the near future."
Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers:
"The main reason why we lost this game is the turnovers we made; 25 turnovers in a game is not good and too much to handle. You can never win a game like that. Our aim is to keep it around 14 or 15 in a game. Jared Sullinger had a great game tonight, along with Jeff Green. From our standpoint, we want to look different guys and this was a good night for it. This was a good sign for a rookie like Jared Sullinger. We wanted to see different guys in the game and I think we got what we want. Fenerbahce Ulker played well. Romain Sato played terrific in the first half and Bo McCalebb did the same in the second half. McCalebb was one of the main reasons for our turnovers.But we should not worry about right now. We can only worry if this happens in April. If we play like this in April we won't make it to May."
Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce:
"We really had a great time here. It's a beautiful city. Obviously they're excited about their basketball. They have a really good basketball team. I thought that was obvious, as we saw tonight. they have good players. McCalebb did a good job of controlling the pace and getting his teammates the ball. Sato shot the ball really well, too. My hat's off to them. They really played a good game."
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