Fenerbahce Ulker stormed into the Last 16 from Group C with its highest scoring total all season in a no-doubt-about it 70-90 road win against already-eliminated Union Olimpija in Ljubljana, Slovenia on Thursday. Fenerbahce raised its record to 5-4 and now holds third place exclusively in the group. Due to its two victories over one of the four-win teams right behind it, DKV Joventut, Fenerbahce would qualify in any tie scenarios at the end of the regular season. Olimpija fell to 1-8 despite the return of team captain Marko Milic from a six-week injury. Fenerbahce was led by its veterans, as Omer Onan paced the scoring charge with 20 points. Mirsad Turkcan followed with 16, while Damir Kaan Mrsic had 14, including a pair of decive three-pointers in the fourth quarter, and Oguz Savas 10. Fenerbahce made the most of 29 free-throw attempts, making 25, including 15 for 15 in the first half. The visitors decided a close game by lengthening their lead into double digits early in the final quarter, after which Mrsic's triples kept it there for good. Mirza Begic was the big gun for Olimpija, with a double-double of 23 points and 13 rebounds, while Frank Robinson backed him up with 11 points.
Onan got Fenerbahce started strong with a layup and a triple at 0-5. After Begic answered with a three-point play, Fenerbahce reeled off 8 unanswered points of which Onan scored the last 4 to make it 3-13. Begic ended Olimpija's slide with a dunk and team icon Milic scored his first basket after six weeks injured, but back-to-back triples by Marques Green opened Fenerbahce's lead again, to 11-19. The Begic-Milic duo was soon joined by Jasmin Hukic, however, whose basket-plus-free throw capped a 7-0 Olimpija run to make it 18-19. Soon, Miha Zupan's triple tied the score and free throws by Robinson gave Olimpija its first lead, 23-21. Devin Smith took it back for Fenerbahce with a triple, but Robinson's layup gave the first quarter to the hosts, 25-24.
Robinson kept his and Olimpija's momentum going with a three-point bomb to open the second quarter. Mrsic matched him for Fenerbahce and before long Smith was dunking the guests into the lead again, 30-31. Onan boosted them further with a triple from the arc to which Mrsic added free throws. Again, Olimpija responded well, as Begic, Hukic, Vladimir Golubovic and Mirza Sarajlija filled an 8-0 blast to retake the lead at 38-36. Free throws by Savas to forge another tie signalled a string of trips to the foul line. Robinsion's 2 free throws put Olimpija ahead, but Elmir Preldzic hit 3 of 3 and Turkcan 2 of 2 from the line to make it 40-43 for Fenerbahce. Begic went to the line next, making his, too, as both teams were perfect through 25 shared free throws until then. True baskets returned, however, as Saralija and Hukic hit shots that Turkcan bettered with a two-pointer and a triple. And when Preldzic got loose for the half's last basket, Fenerbahce had a 47-50 lead.
Begic put Olimpija back within a point, 49-50, with the second half's first basket. A quiet 2 minutes ended with Green feeding Preldzic long for a layup. After Golubovic and Turkcan traded shots, Jaka Klobucar got a second chance after making 1 of 2 free throws and tied it 54-54 with a nifty layup. Mrsic responded from deep, however, and Onan scored a fastbreak layup and free throw for a 54-60 edge to the visitors. Olimpija seemed to cut that in half on Damjan Rudez's long triple, but Onan matched that within seconds. Klobucar canned the next long-distance shot for the hosts, but Savas fed Smith for a dunk and rolled in a jumper as Fenerbahce took a 60-67 advantage after 30 minutes.
Savas was perfect from the line to start the final quarter by extending the Fenerbahce advantage to its biggest of the game so far, 60-69. Begic responded for Olimpija, Turkcan did the same for Fenerbahce, then the visitors slowed a fastbreak to find Mrsic on the arc for a triple that meant the first double-digit advantage, 62-74. Begic came out of a timeout trying to spark Olimpija with a layup and dunk, but in between, the hosts left Mrsic open again and he drilled it. When Semi Erden soon added a three-point-play the hard way, Fenerbahce was up 68-80 with 4 minutes left and the outcome was clear. Fenerbahce was going to the next round with a much-deserved victory.
Thursday, January 8, 2009