GAME BLOG from Istanbul, third place and championship game

May 21, 2017 by Print
GAME BLOG from Istanbul, third place and championship game

Fenerbahce joins the list of champions

Fenerbahce Istanbul is the new Champ - Final Four Istanbul 2017 - EB16

Olympiacos did not win the title, but its players proved they have the hearts of champions. The Reds battled against the odds into the final minutes, but Fenerbahce was simply too strong on this night. The ear-piercing whistles seemed to get louder after every basket. Kalinic’s tip-in took the margin to 20 and the outcome was merely a matter of time.

Istanbul - Sunday, May 21, 22:43

Too early to celebrate? Fans say no!

Datome scored 1 point in the first half. But he made three big shot, including a three, in the few minutes surrounding the end of the third quarter and start of the fourth. Udoh free throws were followed by a triple by Antic that made it 68-50 with only eight minutes to go. The crowd was starting to celebrate Fenerbahce’s first EuroLeague title. It would take a herculean effort to stop Fenerbahce now. In fact, just scoring 18 points against Fenerbahce in eight minutes alone would be more than the team allows on average.

Istanbul - Sunday, May 21, 22:41

Neck stepping time?

Olympiacos called timeout down 57-44 after giving up 8 answered points. The first 5 were free throws; the last 3 on a shot from downtown by Luigi Datome. In that span, Olympiacos missed a pair of layups and an open three. Can the Reds climb out of this hole? Or backed by its crowd, will Fenerbahce step on Olympiacos’s proverbial neck? … Despite another Milutinov dunk, Udoh did show that he was ready with a pair of spectacular blocks to keep Fenerbahce in control, 60-48, at the end of the third quarter.

Istanbul - Sunday, May 21, 22:29

Reds survive another potentially crucial stretch

Vangelis Mantzaris - Olympiacos Piraeus - Final Four Istanbul 2017 - EB16

A Dixon three to start the second half ignited the well-rested Fenerbahce crowd. But they did not affect Mantzaris; he hit a pair of threes to get the Reds within 4. Potential crucial stretch comes when Printezis picks up 2 quick fouls and Vesely makes 2 free throws. But again, Olympiacos survives as a wicked Milutinov slam shows the Red will not be broken.

Istanbul - Sunday, May 21, 22:17

Halftime: It’s still anybody’s game!

Khem Birch - Olympiacos Piraeus - Final Four Istanbul 2017 - EB16

The tied appeared to be turning as the Fenerbahce defense held Olympiacos scoreless for more than five minutes and took a double-digit advantage, 35-25, on an Udoh free throw. A top-of-the key three by Printezis relieved some pressure. And after Bogdanovic hit a runner, Spanoulis spotted Birch on a mismatch inside. Seconds later, Bogdanovic was on the bench with 3 fouls and a Mantzaris triple cut the margin to 5. And that’s how the half ended, 39-34. It’s still anybody’s game!

Istanbul - Sunday, May 21, 21:48

Olympiacos second unit gets job done

Early in the second quarter, Sfairolpoulos sent in Ioannis Papapetrou for Papanikolaou. It meant his team was playing entirely with its second unit: Dominic Waters, Erick Green, Papapetrou, Dimitris Argavanis and Milutinov (and shortly thereafter Patric Young). The fighting spirit the Reds’ reserves have is something Coach Obradovic referenced at the Saturday press conference. He knew what he was talking about. Not only did they hold serve, they trimmed the deficit. When Spanoulis came back in for Waters, it was 31-25 with 5:10 on the clock.

Istanbul - Sunday, May 21, 21:33

Bogdanovic buzzer-beater turns tables

Bogdan Bogdanovic - Fenerbahce Istanbul - Final Four Istanbul 2017 - EB16

Fenerbahce’s first substitutions were at guard. As in both of them. Bogdanovic and Dixon out; Kostas Sloukas and James Nunnally in. might the plan be to keep attacking Spanoulis? It wouldn’t matter in the short term as Sfairopoulos gave his on-court leader a rest. After a big three by Kalninic (his third without a miss), Papaniklaou countered from downtown. But Coach Obradovic sent Bogdanovic back in with 2.2 seconds left in the quarter and he hit a buzzer-beater. The Reds made a pair of those on Friday and they are the kind of bonus points they can ill-afford tonight. It’s 26-18 after 10 minutes.

Istanbul - Sunday, May 21, 21:26

Second early foul on Spanoulis could prove critical

When Spanoulis connected from downtown, it confirmed what we all know: Billy is a big-time player who loves big games. He had 6 points and a pair of assists for a performance index rating of 10. The only problem was that after that triple, he was whistled for his second foul. Coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos did not surprise anybody when he left his go-to guy in, but it does put the Reds in a tough spot.

Istanbul - Sunday, May 21, 21:20

Friday night stars shining for Fener

Nikola Kalinic - Fenerbahce Istanbul - Final Four Istanbul 2017 - EB16

Both teams were finding mismatches to their liking on offense. Fenerbahce opted to turn those into open looks from downtown after getting help. And Kalinic and Dixon responded with back-to-back threes. And after Olympiacos fed Birch, who drew a foul on Bogdanovic, the local side saw Kalinic shoot a jumper over Spanoulis for a three-point play and a 16-8 edge. After five minutes, it was Fener’s Friday stars leading the way. Nine points on perfect shooting for Kalninc and 3 assists, 2 rebounds, 1 block and lots of intimidation from Udoh.

Istanbul - Sunday, May 21, 21:15

Fener lands first punch; Reds respond

Twas a dream start for Fenerbahce. It won the opening tip and seconds later Udoh lobbed to Vesely for a reverse alley-oop slam. After an Olympiacos miss, some might have feared Fener would take the momentum and soar. Instead Spanoulis came up with a steal, ignited a fast break and Dixon fouled an aggressive Birch before he had the chance to hammer home a slam. Even though Birch only split the free throws, the well-known aggressive Olympiacos was on display…. And Despite a Kalinic triple, Spanoulis found Birch for a vicious dunk and then netted 3 free throws for a 5-6 Olympiacos lead.

Istanbul - Sunday, May 21, 21:07

Here We Go!

Tip-Off Championship Game: Fenerbahce Istanbul vs. Olympiacos Piraeus - Final Four Istanbul 2017

There is only one change in terms of starting lineups from the semifinals; Fenerbahce keeps the same five: Bobby Dixon and Bogdan Bogdanovic at guard, Nikola Kalinic and Jan Vesely at forward and Ekpe Udoh at center. Khem Birch steps into Nikola Milutinov’s spot as Olympiacos’s starting center. He’s joined by the backcourt of Vangelis Mantzaris and Vassilis Spanoulis and forwards Kostas Papanikolaou and Georgios Printezis. The introductions were impressive; but the players look ready for action. Here. We. Go!

Istanbul - Sunday, May 21, 20:55

Sinan Erdem Dome is rocking already in warmups

Bogdan Bogdanovic - Fenerbahce Istanbul pregame - Final Four Istanbul 2017 - EB16

Olympiacos players had already been on the court for several minutes when the Fenerbahce players joined them to warmup. If you were anywhere within a 10 kilometer radius, I would imagine the noise from the crowd let you know that was happening. The boos of the Fenerbahce crowd initially drowned out the Olympiacos cheers. This is going to be a loud one. I may repeat that often, but only because it’s true. There is much history that can be made by both teams, but the one thing unique to this season is Istanbul. Fenerbahce will not get another chance to win a EuroLeague title again in its hometown for at least a few more years. The players know it; the fans know it. And the atmosphere shows it.

Istanbul - Sunday, May 21, 20:32

CSKA completes the victory

Hines collected the first rebound of the fourth quarter, which put him alone in fifth place in Final Four history with 54. A Vitaly Fridzon three-pointer made it 59-74 and gave him 12 points. He was one of four CSKA players with at least a dozen points (De Colo, Ciry Higgins, Hines), while the high man in scoring for Madrid was Ayon at 10. CSKA coasted in the final minutes and a late three-pointer by Mikhail Kulagin brought about cheers from the CSKA section as their team won 70-94. Now on to the main event!

Istanbul - Sunday, May 21, 19:55

Check out referee Javor!

Nando De Colo - CSKA Moscow - Final Four Istanbul 2017 - EB16

If you are watching at home, you might notice a small bulge on referee Damir Javor’s back. He is wearing a First Vision Body Camera jersey for this game and later this week, you will be able to download his on-court view of the game! One referee will also wear the same technology in the championship game. Madrid started the second half strong and, led by Gustavo Ayon, further narrowed the deficit to get within 8. However CSKA responded through De Colo and Jackson to remain in control and led 56-69 after three quarters.

Istanbul - Sunday, May 21, 19:31

Muscovites marching on at the break

CSKA seemed to have the game in the bag after a 0-11 run made it 20-41, but Madrid didn’t get here by accident and through the retiring Andres Nocioni in his final EuroLeague game and MVP Llull, who overtook Jaka Lakovic for sixth place on the EuroLeague all-time scoring charts with his 2,525thcareer point, Los Blancos rallied to within 32-45 at the break. Abysmal shooting (1 of 11 from downtown) continued to plague Madrid, but a hot streak from Jaycee Carroll, Llull and the like could change things in a hurry. As the teams walked off the court for halftime, a singing contest between the Fenerbahce and Olympiacos fans erupted. The anticipation for the championship game grows by the minute!

Istanbul - Sunday, May 21, 18:57

CSKA in control after 10 minutes

CSKA Moscow leads 10-23 after 10 hard-fought minutes. Although the score doesn’t show it, the first quarter was a physical period with each team committing 7 fouls. The biggest difference between the teams was in terms of shooting; Madrid missed all 7 three-point tries and was only 2 of 6 inside the arc. CSKA was rebounding well led by Kyle Hines, who with 5 first-quarter boards moved into a tie with Ioannis Bourousis and Panagiotis Fasoulas for the fifth most total rebounds in Final Four history with 53.

Istanbul - Sunday, May 21, 18:33

It’s third-place game time!

Gustavo Ayon - Real Madrid - Final Four Istanbul 2017 - EB16

Madrid has made a change in its starting lineup with Jeffrey Taylor stepping in for Luka Doncic alongside Sergio Llull at guard, while Jonas Maciulis, Anthony Randolph and Gustavo Ayon complete the lineup. CSKA brings back the same starters as the semifinal: Aaron Jackson and Nando De Colo at guard, Nikita Kurbanov and Andrey Vorontsevich at forward and Kyle Hines at center. There are a few things to watch for in this game and we will update you along the way here with the game blog.

Istanbul - Sunday, May 21, 18:01