Real Madrid had the best possible return to the Euroleague after a one-year absence by downing Fenerbahce Ulker 72-80 in Istanbul, Turkey in Group C on Thursday. Madrid improved to 1-0 in Group C despite travelling without Felipe Reyes and losing Louis Bullock midway through the opening quarter. Meanwhile, Fenerbahce Ulker missed star guard Will Solomon, out with a last-minute injury. Axel Hervelle led the winners with a Euroleague career-best 23 points on 5-of-7 three-pointers. Charles Smith added 17 on 5-of-6 three-pointers while Alex Mumbru had 10 for Madrid. Mirsad Turkcan led Fenerbahce with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Damir Kaan added 17 points on his 37th birthday while Ibrahim Kutluay got 14 for the hosts. Madrid rolled in the opening half, as 12 steals and 7-of-9 three-pointers were enough reason to break the game open, 31-48, at halftime. Turkcan led the Fenerbahce comeback, as the hosts got as close as 64-68 early in the fourth quarter. Mumbru and Raul Lopez allowed Madrid to leave the court with an important road win.
Hervelle opened the scoring for Madrid with free throws before Gasper Vidmar matched with a layup for a 2-2 tie. Fenerbahce tried to slow down the game tempo in the early going, but didn't find good shots. Bullock buried his first triple, but at the other end Vidmar provided a highlight with an in-your-face dunk and foul against Hervelle. Vidmar picked up his third foul in as many minutes, while a fast break layup by Bullock and an alley-oop dunk by Smith gave Madrid a 5-10 edge. Hervelle and Kutluay traded triples, but Madrid kept collecting steals. Another fast break layup by Hervelle caused the hosts to call timeout at 8-15. Turkcan stepped up with a driving layup, but Hervelle grabbed a ball on the floor and stood up to nail his second three-pointer. Smith also scored from downtown to break the game open, 10-21. Coach Bogdan Tanjevic tried a new frontline with Semih Erden and Oguz Savas, but Lazaros Papadopoulos followed an alley-oop layup with a three-point play. Smith fired in a seven-meter bomb as part of a 0-17 run, which Alex Mumbru capped with a free throw that gave Madrid a 10-30 lead after 10 minutes, during which the hosts committed 10 turnovers and Madrid enjoyed 8 steals.
With Bullock now on the bench resting Fenerbahce tried to get back in the game. Emir Preldzic shined with a driving layup and Kaan added one from downtown to get within 15-32. But Hervelle nailed another triple and Blagota Sekulic and Michalis Pelekanos followed with easy back-to-back layups to reinforce who was in control and build a 24-point lead. Fenerbahce called yet another timeout, as its offense has collapsed without Solomon on court. Vidmar come off the bench and hit a jump hook and Turkcan added a baseline jumper, but Lopez buried a triple off the dribble. Madrid kept following its game plan, with aggressive man-to-man defense and enough patience on offense to find outside shots. Kutluay woke up the crowd with a corner three-pointer, but Hervelle matched that at the other end. Vidmar kept pacing Fener with a tip-in, but free throws by Mumbru and a jump hook from Sekulic kept Madrid way ahead, 26-48. Vidmar scored again and Oguz Savas banked in a short shot, but Madrid, which made 7-of-9 threes in the first two periods, still led 31-48 at halftime.
Hervelle stayed on fire early in the second half, as he buried a three-pointer to silence the crowd. Fenerbahce now tried an offensive lineup with Kaan at point guard, but Madrid kept dominating the game with outstanding defense. Smith stepped up with another one from downtown, which Turkcan erased with a three-point play. With its team down by 20, the Fenerbahce fans were trying to lift their guys, but a put-back dunk by an unstoppable Hervelle kept Madrid fully in charge. The visitors kept powering the offensive boards with Hervelle and Papadopoulos, but a big triple by Kaan got Fener within 41-58. Smith answered from downtown and Mumbru added back-to-back fast break layups for a 43-65 Madrid lead. Kaan insisted with two more three-pointers while Kutluay joined the three-point festival, causing Madrid to call timeout at 52-65. The visitors were now struggling to score, while Turkcan took over with a power layup and Kann capped a 14-0 run with yet another triple that got Fenerbahce within single digits, 57-65. Smith answered from downtown to give Madrid some fresh air, 57-68, after three quarters.
Fenerbahce found a go-to guy in Turkcan, who followed a basket with a critical triple that brought his team back in the game, 62-68. Madrid kept struggling to score, while Onan fed Kutluay for an easy basket that got the hosts even closer, 64-68. Madrid called timeout and instantly improved its offense, as Mumbru buried one from downtown for a 64-71 edge with 7 minutes to go. Tunceri stepped up with a driving layup, as Fenerbahce now had troubles in offense with Turkcan resting on the bench. Vidmar set the crowd on fire with a huge dunk that Lopez erased with a driving basket. Madrid had regained its momentum in defense while Hamilton fed Lopez for an easy layup, good for a 66-77 Madrid lead. Turkcan tried to get Fenerbahce back in the game but he did not find much help around. With Bullock unavailable, Madrid tried twin playmakers with Lopez and Tunceri on court. Savas drew a foul but made just 1 of 2 free throws whle Tunceri buried a triple that sealed the outcome, 69-80, already in the final 2 minutes. Fenerbahce kept trying quick shots without much success, as a three-pointer by Kutluay happened to be too little, too late.
Thursday, October 25, 2007