Tau Ceramica grabbed sole possession of second place in Group C with a 69-81 win over Fenerbahce Ulker on Thursday night in Istanbul. Tau snapped a two-game slide and improved to 4-2 thanks to a strong night from its big men. The hosts seemed to have the game under control as they built a 37-28 halftime lead, but Tau stormed back behind Tiago Splitter and Igor Rakocevic on a 0-13 run to take the lead. Fener recovered and the start of the fourth quarter featured plenty of excitement including four ties and four lead changes, but again Splitter and Rakocevic were there when it counted to push Tau to victory. Mirza Teletovic led all scorers with 19 points for Tau, Splitter added 18 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks, Rakocevic scored 16 and Pablo Prigioni added 12 points and 8 assists. Damir Kaan Mrsic paced Fener with 16, Marques Green added 14, Emir Preldzic 12 and Semih Erden 10.
Tau went down low to Splitter on the opening possession and he quickly drew a foul from Gasper Vidmar and scored the game’s first points from the line. Green answered with a three to get Fenerbahce on the scoreboard. The game continued at a good pace with Rakocevic scoring twice in transition and Rasim Basak hitting a pair of threes. The lead continued to change hands on a Splitter reverse move followed by a layup by Omer Onan. Fener tied the game at 14-14 with an Onan triple – his first of the season – but Pete Mickeal restored the visitors’ advantage. The teams’ scoring dropped off in the last minutes of the period. Erden tied it with a jumper over Stanko Barac and Green gave the hosts an 18-16 lead with a pair of free throws to the period.
Tau Captain Sergi Vidal knotted the game at 19-19 with a triple early in the second period and Teletovic soon added a basket on the break. Mrsic came away with a lucky score when the ball bounced to him under the basket, but Teletovic produced a nifty move at the other end for a basket-plus-foul. The hosts picked up some momentum as Mrsic put Fener up 31-24 with a pair of triples from the top of the key. After Tau head coach Dusko Ivanovic called a timeout, Splitted fed Teletovic for a slam. The tempo sped up and the excitement grew, but that resulted more in missed shots than anything else. Mrsic pumped the lead up to 9 and after a Barac basket in the paint and a pair of free throws by Green, Fenerbahce Ulker escorted a 37-28 lead into halftime.
Rakocevic and Teletovic scored early in the third period to put Tau back on track. Onan drilled a three on the 24-second buzzer to get some cheers from the fans, but Splitter cut in for a layup. Erden fought back for Fenerbahce with a basket-plus-foul on the offensive glass. Splitter remained the main target for Tau with a pair of baskets and then a Rakocevic pull-up brought the visitors back within 2. Teletovic put Tau on top with a triple before Mickeal added a bucket inside. Fenerbahce Ulker head coach Bogdan Tanjevic called a timeout, but that did not slow Tau down as Rakocevic added a jumper to cap a 0-13 run that made it 43-48. Green restored the home team’s hopes with a triple and Preldzic came through with a basket-plus-foul to put the Turkish champs back on top, but a Teletovic triple – his third of the game – gave the visitors a 51-52 lead with 10 minutes to play.
Green put Fener back on top with a three-pointer as the fourth period got underway. Vidal soon tied the score before Teletovic buried another three. However he committed his third and fourth fouls at the other end and needed to take a seat. Then Splitter picked up his fourth foul as Preldzic tied the score from the line. Prigioni and Preldzic traded threes as the scoreboard showed 60-60 and the excitement grew. Will McDonald made a free throw to put Tau on top, and then Erden and McDonald traded baskets inside. Green drew a foul while shooting a three, but made only 1 from the line to tie the game at 63-63, however Rakocevic answered from downtown with his first three of the night. Oguz Savas scored on the offensive glass, but Tau brought its top big men back and Splitter scored for the visitors. Rakocevic added a three-point play to make it 65-71. Mrsic gave Fener hope with a pair of free throws with three minutes remaining, but that was a sclose as it would get. Fener would rue some of its missed shots as Splitter scored inside and Prigioni added a three to give Tau a 67-76 lead with less than 90 seconds to play. Splitter added a basket to give the visitors their its biggest lead as Tau swept the series.
Thursday, December 4, 2008