Fenerbahce Ulker recorded an important road win at Zalgiris Kaunas, 78-84, on Wednesday to cement its place at the top half of the Group A standings. Fenerbahce's second road win improved head coach Bogdan Tanjevic's men to 3-2 before visiting Regal FC Barcelona next week. Meanwhile Zalgiris lost its fourth straight and fell to 1-4 and a three-way tie for fourth place in the group. The Lithuanian champs head to France to face Asvel Basket next week. Fenerbahce benefited from strong team play, as 39-year-old Damir Kaan Mrsic led six FB Ulker scorers in double figures with 16 points and 5 assists. Zalgiris was doomed by its 17 turnovers – 7 more than its opponent. The game was closer than the final score would indicate, featuring three ties in the fourth quarter, the last at 69-69 with four minutes remaining. However clutch plays from Lynn Greer and Semih Erden allowed the visitors to pull ahead and Zalgiris came up empty on key possessions as the game slipped away. Omer Onan added 13 points for the winners, Gordan Giricek and Erden had 12 apiece and Omer Asik and Emir Preldzic netted 10 each. Marty Pocius had his best game yet for Zalgiris with 19 points and 7 rebounds, Dainius Salenga scored 17, Marcus Brown 16 and Travis Watson posted 12 points and 9 rebounds in defeat.
The visitors won the opening tip and went inside to Asik for the opening basket. Zalgiris also went to its big man and Mirza Begic came through. Onan came off a pick to drill and three and Kaan Mrsic got a basket through goaltending as the visitors surged ahead. Brown drained a triple and Mantas Kalnietis fed a cutting Salenga to keep the score square. Brown soon put the hosts ahead from the line and then added a second three-pointer, but an active Asik countered with 4 points. Salenga made a reverse layup and Watson muscled his way to a pair of baskets in the paint as Zalgiris jumper ahead 20-13. A wave of substitutions changed the momentum as Oguz Savas, Giricek and Preldzic all scored as FB Ulker jumped back to within a basket. Pocius ended the Zalgiris dry spell with a driving layup, but Giricek beat him downcourt and spotted up for a triple to make it 24-23 after 10 minutes.
Pocius blew by Giricek for a layup and Salenga did the same for a layup-plus-foul as the hosts went ahead by 6. Preldzic made a fine pass behind his head to Erden to beat a double team for a free throw and Erden added another basket before Brown dropped in a floater at the other end. Greer robbed Kalnietis and darted in for a layup to keep the visitors close. After a timeout, Greer stripped Kalnietis again and set up Onan to bring his team within 33-30. Brown energized his team with a triple, but FB Ulker continued to claw its way back. Erden and Onan cut the gap to a basket, however Salenga kept his team ahead with free throws and Watson made a fine pass to Tadas Klimavicius for another basket. Preldzic countered for Fenerbahce, but Pocius drilled a three from the corner to make it 43-37 at halftime.
Giricek pulled up to start the second half with a FB Ulker jumper, but Salenga gave the locals something to cheer about with a fantastic baseline move and slam. Kaan Mrsic drained a three to bring the visitors within 3. Fenerbahce missed twice from downtown trying to tie the game before Watson corrected a Brown miss at the other end. Another Kaan Mrsic three and an Onan jumper kept Fenerbahce close. Kaan Mrsic’s third three of the night lifted his team to 49-51, Fenerbahce’s first lead since the opening minutes. Pocius converted an acrobatic layup only to see Kaan Mrsic match him at the other end. Begic converted twice from the line, but Asik made just 1 at the other end. Asik then added a basket in the paint to give Fenerbahce its biggest lead yet. Pocius rescued Zalgiris with a triple from the corner to keep his team within 57-59 after three quarters.
Salenga went to the line with a chance to tie it, but missed twice. However Pocius grabbed the offensive rebounds and scored to knot the game at 59-59. Onan put FB ulker back ahead with a triple. Salenga drew another foul and sank 2 free throws, but Preldzic extended the visitors lead with another triple and Giricek continued the momentum with a long jumper. Tensions grew and both teams missed opportunities at point blank range. Pocius floated through the lane for another remarkable layup to bring Zalgris within 65-67 midway through the quarter. Kalnietis worked the pick-and-roll to perfection to get Begic the game-tying basket, but Greer fed Erden down low to put the visitors back on top. Salenga tied it again with a pull-up jumper. But again Erden countered for FB Ulker. Greer made a short jumper to up the lead to 69-73 with two-and-a-half minutes to go. However things started to unwind for Zalgiris. A Salenga turnover was followed by a lengthy FB Ulker possession, missed shot and offensive rebound that turned into Watson’s fifth foul and a Greer free throw for a 5-point lead. Another empty trip for Zalgiris and an Erden basket practically sealed the result, allowing Fenerbahce to celebrate an important road win.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009