After following its young big men most of the night, Fenerbahce Ulker turned to backcourt veterans to seal its second win of the new Euroleague season, 67-62 over visiting Cibona Zagreb on Wednesday. Fenerbahce now stands 2-1 in the middle of Group A, while Cibona's record dropped heavily to 0-3. Fenerbahce needed a 16-0 explosion in the second quarter just to get back into a game that swung back and forth until Omer Onan put the hosts ahead for good late in the third quarter and Damir Mrsic made sure of it down the stretch. Big man Oguz Savas ruled the inside to the tune of 14 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks for Fenerbahce. Onan scored 6 of his 11 points in a row to execute the last lead change, while Mrsic had 9 points on 3 triples that came when the hosts needed them most. Lynn Greer added 9 points for the winners, while Omer Asik had 8 and 3 blocks. Cibona fought back several times thanks to 15 points from Jamont Gordon, 14 from Antonio Graves and 10 each from Marin Rozic and teenage big man Leon Radosevic. Their efforts couldn't overcome disadvantages of 40-27 in rebounds and 6-1 in blocked shots, however.
Savas got Fenerbahce off on the right foot with an offensive rebound for a three-point play to open the scoring. Graves matched him with one shot, from downtown, and soon gave Cibona its first lead, 5-7, by feeding Radosevic for a dunk. Radosevic dunked again on an assist from Jamont Gordon, who then drove the lane to put the guests up 7-11. Onan broke the slide for the hosts, but Tomas scored the next 3 points to make it 9-14. Although Savas got to the line for Fenerbahce, Rozic and Gordon sliced through the hosts' defense as Cibona cruised to the end of the first quarter in control at 11-18.
Another layup by Gordon stretched Cibona's lead to 11-20 to open the second quartrer, not giving a clue what was about to come. Mrsic's triple sparked a reaction from the Fenerbahce bench that continues with Asik dunking and Gordan Giricek burying a three-pointer, too. The next basket, by Asik, put Fenerbahce in the lead again, while its defense kept harassing Cibona into one miss after another. Giricek came back with a basket to which Savas and Tarence Kinsey added free throws and Asik another layup to cap a 16-0 run with the scoreboard showing a sudden 27-20 lead for Fenerbahce. Graves and Rozic broke the spell for Cibona, but when Giricek canned another triple, the Fenerbahce lead was 32-24 - a 17-point swing from earlier in the quarter. Cibona realized there were 2 minutes left in the half, however. So after Graves beat the shot-clock from long range and Vedran Vukusic joined him with his own strike from downtown, Graves finished the half with a shorter jumper good for an 8-0 run and a 32-32 tie on the scoreboard.
Rozic scored inside to complete the Cibona comeback at 32-34 to open the second half. Fenerbahce responded by finding Asik open for a dunk and Savas for a hook to lead again. Graves was able to tie it up again with a driving layup, but Onan blasted an open triple to keep Fenerbahce a step ahead at 39-36. Again, the hosts could not hold the edge, however. Rozic made a pair of free throws and Vukusic lined up another big triple as Cibona took a new lead, 39-41. After a timeout, Fenerbahce swung the scoreboard again as the veteran Onan took matters into his own hands. His three-point basket-plus-free throw got the lead back, then his big triple assisted by Asik after an offensive rebound made it 45-41. Kinsey hit a layup and Semih Erden a tip-in as the hosts reached the 30-minute mark holding a 49-43 advantage.
Cibona failed to take advantage of an intentional foul called early in the fourth quarter, getting just a free throw out of that possession. The visitors tried a zone defense to stop Fenerbahce's inside scoring, but a patient Erden found Savas for another layup. Gordon answered with a three-point shot from high then a steal out of the zone let Marko Tomas make a nice feed to Radosevic that trimmed the difference to a single basket, 51-49. That's when Mrsic stepped up again for the hosts, burying a triple while falling down that lifted Fenerbahce's spirits and its lead, to 54-49. An offensive rebound and put-back by Savas with just under 5 minutes left put Cibona's back to the wall again, 56-49. After a delay of several minutes due to a scoreboard problem, Cibona came back to Radosevic for a quick score and locked into its zone to get Fenerbahce's 15th turnover of the night. That zone left Greer alone, however, and he drilled a big shot from the arc at 59-51, after which Cibona's eighth turnover cost a lot more. After another timeout, Mrsic set up in the corner and buried his third three-point shot in as many tries to make it 62-51. Gordan and Rozic got 5 points back for Cibona, but time ran out on the guests as Fenerbahce's game-long resilience paid off with another Group B victory.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009