Every possession matters
In fitting form for the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Championship Game, every possession matters. Both players had three players on the floor with 4 fouls. CSKA started to switch players when possible for offense and defense, bringing in his All-Euroleague guard when CSKA got the ball, but sending in Kurbanov and Aaron Jackson. The CSKA defense held firm and Hines made it 90-95 with a put-back. Then Kalinic fouled out and De Colo added 2 from the line with 38.9 seconds left. CSKA went back to its defensive lineup, but there was no stopping an off-the-glass Dixon triple. But CSKA managed to waste 16 seconds before Teodosic sank free throws for his first points of the extra session. It was 93-99 with 17 seconds left. Fener could not afford for anything to go wrong. Datome nailed a triple with 7.5 seconds left, but then De Colo, who was already 6 for 6 from the line in overtime, made 2 more with 6.2 seconds to ice the win. Demetris Nichols, the only CSKA player not to appear in the game till that point, came in for Hines and corralled the final rebound as CSKA celebrated an emotional title as a team.
Berlin - Sunday, May 15, 22:36
Fenerbahce continues its momentum… at first
A defensive stop followed by a Sloukas three put Fenerbahce in control. De Colo countered with 2 free throws and then CSKA regained the lead on a Higgins fast-break layup. The refs went to the monitors to check if a Bogdanovic jumper was made before the 24-second clock expired… and it was. But every extra minute of rest could aid CSKA. Hines went down the middle for a layup and an 88-89 edge. Then De Colo made it a 3-point lead with two minutes to go with a layup.
Berlin - Sunday, May 15, 22:19
After a timeout, Fenerbahce turned to Dixon again and he came through with a triple to tie the game at 81-81 with 43 seconds left. To put it simply, the game was on the line… and the entire arena rose on its feet. Hines was called for a loose ball foul on Sloukas with 20.8 seconds left. Sloukas made 2 free throws for his team’s first lead since the second quarter. CSKA went without a timeout and after surviving some Fenerbahce pressure, De Colo went for the win. He missed his triple, but Khryapa rescued his team with the offensive rebound and bucket to tie it at 83-83 with 1.9 seconds left. Udoh missed at the buzzer and it was time for another overtime.
Berlin - Sunday, May 15, 22:12
Dixon takes his shot
With the pressure eating up everybody, Bobby Dixon took his shot at history. His triple made it a 3-point game with three and a half minutes to go. And after Fenerbahce held CSKA on defense, Dixon’s floater made it 78-79. But no man can win the Euroleague alone. While Fenerbahce needed to find someone else to step up – and Kalinic’s mismatches on the wing against De Colo and Higgins did not result in points, CSKA turned to its reliable one-two punch: Teodosic found a cutting De Colo for a layup and a 3-point edge with 49.6 seconds remaining.
Berlin - Sunday, May 15, 22:04
Fenerbahce’s time to get back in it
Vorontsevich fouled out and Datome free throws closed the gap to 8. The Fenerbahce faithful were rocking the arena… Even after a Khryapa triple, Datome made one. Udoh delivered with a rejection of De Colo and Antic made it 71-77 from the line. If Fenerbahce can win it, the time for the move is now… Teodosic comes back in with four and a half minutes to go.
Berlin - Sunday, May 15, 21:58
This is no time for caution
Three minutes into the fourth quarter, we can see signs of CSKA tiring. The lead is still significant, but could this be what Fenerbahce was pushing for? Aaron Jackson has taken control of the ball more often with Teodosic on the wing and Antic and Udoh drew fouls inside on consecutive plays. In addition to De Colo, three more players – Teodosic, Korobkov and Vorontsevich – had 4 fouls. But now is no time for caution. Coach Itoudis had three of them on the court at the same time as his team tried to protect a 12-point lead with six and a half minutes to go.
Berlin - Sunday, May 15, 21:54
Teodosic handles Fenerbahce pressure
Fenerbahce was using a press at times and a lot of on-the-ball pressure to try and make a run, but CSKA was able to handle it thanks to savvy play from Teodosic. The CSKA maestro was able to move the ball around the guards pressuring him to draw fouls and get to the line and then stepped up with a big triple to go ahead 42-63. Fenerbahce turned to two of its former champs, Pero Antic and Kostas Sloukas, who each made big threes to keep their team alive. De Colo took a seat with 1:49 left in the third quarter and 4 fouls. Now the pressure would rest on Teodosic’s shoulders to continue creating without this season’s MVP by his side. Can he keep it up?
Berlin - Sunday, May 15, 21:38
Vesely’s struggles hampering Fenerbahce
For all the great plays Vesely has made all season and can still make tonight, free throw shooting is a hole in his game. When Vesely missed 4 more free throws early in the third quarter, it made him 0 for 8 from the line in the game. (He was 0 for 4 in the semifinals). Though he is managing to contribute to CSKA’s foul trouble – he just drew Hines’s third foul, those missed opportunities were getting in his team’s way of a comeback. Vesely finally made 1 midway through the quarter, but it only closed the gap to 37-55.
Berlin - Sunday, May 15, 21:31
Crowd still pumping Fenerbahce
CSKA’s concert-like second quarter did not dampen the spirits of the Fenerbahce fans, who erupted into cheers for the start of the second half and got even louder when Vesely scored. But CSKA found ways to keep the momentum, namely a three-point play by Hines and Andrey Vorontsevich’s block of Vesely. Nonetheless, the game was far from over. Fenerbahce was playing with energy and seemed to have a run in the tank.
Berlin - Sunday, May 15, 21:23
Fridzon’s words ring true
Dmitry Kulagin’s introduction meant that 11 CSKA players appeared already in the first half. Only nine played in the semifinal. In just 1:04 on the floor, the only statistic Kulagin amassed was an intentional foul on Vesely. But when Kulagin came out, the entire bench rose to greet him for his effort. On Saturday, CSKA guard Vitaly Fridzon spoke about the team’s great spirit and chemistry in this team. He said: "You could even see it [Friday] night. After a turnover or missed shot or foul, we stay together. I really like to play for this team." Tonight those words are as true as ever and Kulagin’s reception confirmed it.
Berlin - Sunday, May 15, 21:04
CSKA finds its way
CSKA found some momentum at both ends by getting physical on defense despite its foul problems and getting out in transition. De Colo, who in halfcourt issues was again facing Kalinic, led a break that Nikita Kurbanov finished with a wicked dunk. Then crisp ball movement led to a Teodosic triple and a 6-point edge. After a timeout, the ball continued to move quickly and Kalinic was unable to stop Hines at the rim without fouling. Kalinic was out again with 3 fouls. Was the tide turning? Fenerbahce, which had not made a field goal in more than five minutes, may have relied too much on its physicality as Jan Vesely was whistled for an offensive foul in the post. Meanwhile, De Colo drilled a three and Higgins carved up the Fener defense for a slam that made it 30-42.
Berlin - Sunday, May 15, 20:50
CSKA nears foul trouble
Teodosic has his pulse on the game and just after seeing Bobby Dixon drill a triple, the CSKA guard saw an opening early in the shot clock and darted inside for a floater. However, while the teams traded points, Fenerbahce was also racking up the fouls on CSKA’s players, getting into the bonus at the 6:47 mark and creating the potential for individuals to wind up in foul trouble, too. Udoh’s free throw nudged Fener ahead 27-26.
Berlin - Sunday, May 15, 20:35
The quality shines through
So much of what we’ve been told about these teams can be seen to be true in the first quarter. And it looks like each team will take full advantage of any opportunity given them. CSKA’s ball movement is top-notch and players seem to know when a good shot can result in a better one, regardless of how much time there is on the shot clock. Fenerbahce is also playing on mismatches, though its first choice is to go inside and use its size first. That has resulted in A) plays like Ricky Hickman’s slick drive for a basket-and-foul with 1:20 left in the opening quarter and B) the early introduction of Pasha Korobkov, who was limited to 14 games this season and did not appear in the semifinals. Victor Khryapa’s jumper gave the Muscovites a 20-22 lead after 10 minutes.
Berlin - Sunday, May 15, 20:22
Fenerbahce starts with big, physical lineup
Both teams came out with lineups featuring a teller player at the 3 spot. With a lot of switching at both ends, Fenerbahce forward Nikola Kalinic found himself often – whether by coincidences or design – matching up with Nando De Colo. His physicality seemed to bother De Colo and the two were separated less than three minutes in. However, with Fenerbahce looking to crowd the paint, a pair of early threes by Cory Higgins and Andrey Vorontsevich kept it close. Then Kalinic went out with 2 fouls (and Ekpe Udoh came in) and Vorontsevich gave CSKA an 11-112 lead midway through the quarter with free throws.
Berlin - Sunday, May 15, 20:11
Fenerbahce fans make their presence felt
All the talk of Fenerbahce having the home-court advantage at this championship game is bearing true. The crowd is largely yellow-and-blue and sang over the CSKA player introductions. That said, CSKA players and head coach Dimitris Itoudis were quick all week to point out how well the team performed in front of “hostile” crowds this season. We will soon see if that is the case at Mercedes-Benz Arena too!
Berlin - Sunday, May 15, 19:55
It’s almost title time!
The twenty-four men that will take the court tonight at Mercedes-Benz Arena aiming to become the next Turkish Airlines Euroleague champions are in the building. With the Third Place Game still ongoing, CSKA Moscow’s bus and shortly after Fenerbahce Istanbul’s bus reached the arena, where the players will complete their preparations and begin warming up soon. It’s almost title time! The countdown to the crowning moment of the 2015-16 Turkish Airlines Euroleague season is here!
Berlin - Sunday, May 15, 18:50