| Fenerbahce Ulker bounced back from a three-game losing streak to smash visiting DKV Joventut 89-63 in Istanbul on Wednesday and tie for third place in Group C. Both teams now share 4-4 records, but should they end the regular season tied, Fenerbahce would have a tie-break advantage due to its two wins over Joventut. Devin Smith came off the bench to harass the guests with his athleticism on both ends of the floor, leading Fenerbahce with 16 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks. Emir Preldzic scored 8 of his 14 points in the first period and matched Smith with 8 rebounds to help the hosts outrebound Joventut by 38-27. Mirsad Turkcan and Omer Onan added 14 points each for Fenerbahce, which won every quarter en route its biggest regular season victory so far. Big man Jan-Hendrick Jagla came off the bench to pace Joventut with 17 points, while Simas Jasaitis posted 14. Edu Hernandez-Sonseca chipped in with 10 points for the guests, but lacked helps inside, where the visitors got outmuscled. Extremely crucial games await these two teams next week, as Joventut will host Alba Berlin in a pure duel for the Top 16, while Fenerbahce will try to beat Union Olimpija in Ljubljana.
Turkcan downed the game's first basket to please the home crowd. Hernandez-Sonseca soon answered with a pair of power moves for Joventut. Turkcan found an open Onan up top for Fenerbahce's first triple, but Jasaitis matched at the other end. Both defenses preferred to foul rather than allow an easy drive, but even a foul couldn't prevent Preldzic from hitting a tough three from the corner, putting the hosts ahead 10-9 even though he missed the added free throw. After Jasaitis scored his second triple of the quarter, Preldzic erased it with a layup and 1 for 2 free throws. Every foul meant free throws now, and Preldzic took advantage of those, toot, before Damir Mrsic nailed a corner triple to force Joventut head coach Sito Alonso to call a timeout, down by 6 points, 19-13. In the last 90 seconds of the quarter, Oguz Savas had the only points for either team, a basket down low, widening Fenerbahce's lead to 21-13 after 10 minutes.
Hernandez-Sonseca played strong at the start of the second quarter, matching layups by Preldzic and Savas with a pair of his own. Soon, however, Fenerbahce changed to a higher gear on defense, as Smith's monster block led to an easy fastbreak basket by Onan. Next, Savas took a charge and Smith scored. Onan capped an 8-0 run with a jumper, expanding the Fenerbahce advantage to 33-17. Jasaitis scored a basket for the guests and Savas earned a trip to the line for Fenerbahce while Joventut took a timeout to talk things over. Pau Ribas made the guests feel better with a shot from behind the arc, but Turkcan copied him with one for Fenerbahce after playing give-and-go with Marques Green. Though Jagla scored yet another Joventut triple, Smith assassinated the rim with a dunk, as the scoreboard showed 42-25. Fenerbahce was on a roll, getting inside almost at will, as Semih Erden punished Joventut with another dunk. Jagla earned a trip to the line and made both, and Joventut finally managed to stand its defensive ground on the fist half's last possession, but Fenerbahce still ruled, 46-29, at the break.
Joventut surprised Fenerbahce with zone defense to start the second half, while Jasaitis and Jagla scored 4 points for the guests. But soon enough, Onan drove through the zone for a hook and Preldzic finished a perfect Fenerbahce fastbreak with an easy layup. Still, the zone helped Joventut contain the hosts better, and though Fenerbahce's guard Green found space for a triple, Jagla and Demond Mallet both scored from downtown on the other end. When Jagla finished a fastbreak with a power dunk, the difference was down to 55-43. The hosts stopped Joventut's momentum, however, when Mrsic made foul shots after a technical and Green blasted another from downtown. After free throws by Savas, Turkcan took advantage of an offensive rebound to score a three and Smith got away on a fastbreak for another dunk. All in all, it was a 12-0 run for the hosts, who were in full control again, 67-45, after 30 minutes.
Luka Bogdanovic opened the final quarter with 5 points for Joventut and Jagla crashed the glass for a bucket inside, but Fenerbahce didn't have trouble scoring, too, with Turkcan netting 4 of the hosts' first 8 points. Bogdanovic scored another bucket only to see Smith and Mrsic nail consecutive triples, stretching the lead to 81-54. With only 5 minutes to go, the game was out of reach, but Joventut took a timeout thinking of point differences in case of ties at the end of the regular season. The guest responded by playing tougher defense, not allowing the hosts to turn the end of the game into a Fenerbahce showtime. This didn't seem to bother the fans, many of whom were dressed in yellow-white Fenerbahce jerseys, as they kept chanting and singing until the final whistle. Erden scored a layup for a final score of 89-63, Fenerbahce's biggest win of the regular season, good for a sweep of both games against a direct opponent for the Top 16.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008