Fenerbahce starts strong and hold on to beat Panathinaikos
Fenerbahce Istanbul trailed for only 17 seconds the entire night, but had to fight hard to hold off Panathinaikos Athens 82-75 in the Top 16 opener for both teams in Group E on Wednesday night. The hosts took control and a double-digit lead early by starting the game with a 14-0 run, but Miroslav Raduljica got the Greens going and a Vladimir Jankovic triple cut the deficit to 46-43 at halftime. The visitors melted the deficit more, and briefly went in front late in the third quarter, 56-58. But the hosts finished the third quarter with 6 straight points, then big men Ekpe Udoh inside and Pero Antic from downtown hit big shots down the stretch to restore a double-digit margin and lift Fenerbahce to victory and keep it perfect on its home floor this season. Udoh finished with 16 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks in victory. Luigi Datome netted 15 points, while Antic, Jan Vesely and Bogdan Bogdanovic each contributed 12 in victory. Raduljica and James Gist each scored 14 for Panathinaikos. Sasha Pavlovic scored 10, while Nick Calathes added 9 points in defeat.
First quarter: Great start for the hosts
Fenerbahce stormed out of the gate. Datome opened the scoring with a baseline jumper, and after Bobby Dixon fed Udoh for a layup, Datome hit another baseline jumper and added a pair of free throws to make it 8-0. Udoh served up a pair of blocked shots on the defensive end as Panathinaikos was held scoreless for more than four minutes to open the game. Udoh's short jumper and free throws from Bogdanovic and Pero Antic made it 14-0 before James Gist hit from downtown to open the Greens' account. But Dixon replied with a three of his own as Fenerbahce outhustled the visitors on the offensive boards as well. But Raduljica got Panathinaikos going by scoring a pair of baskets in traffic. Bogdanovic drove for a layup, but Raduljica answered with a monster dunk and then followed it up with a mid-range jumper to cut within 19-11. Udoh and Gist traded baskets inside, before Datome and Bogdanovic hit back-to-back from long range for the hosts to lead 27-13. However, Dimitris Diamantidis hit a runner and Jankovic knocked down a tough corner triple at the buzzer to make it 28-18 at the end of first quarter.
Second quarter: Greens rally back before halftime
Diamantidis opened the second quarter with a triple, and after an alley-oop dunk from Vesely, a triple from Antonis Fotsis cut the difference to 31-24. After Zeljko Obradovic called a timeout, Pavlovic scored a reverse layup that got the visitors within 6. Antic hit a three-pointer for Fenerbahce, but Raduljica scored inside and Pavlovic finished a fastbreak with a dunk to make it 35-30. Pavlovic added a driving layup for the Greens, but Vesely’s two-handed monster dunk over Gist extended the lead to 39-32. The Greens cut the deficit some more when Nick Calathes scored a three-point play. After Vesely’s free throws and a floater, Calathes made a runner and Jankovic had a tip-in that helped Panathinaikos close within 43-40. In the final minute, Bogdanovic and Jankovic traded three-pointers, making it 46-43 at halftime.
Third quarter: Panathinaikos takes a brief lead
Fenerbahce started the third quarter similar to the way it started the game. Datome hit a triple, and after 2 of 3 from the foul line from Dixon, Udoh drove to the hoop to make it 53-44. Gist hit a triple for the visitors, and Fotsis also nailed one from downtown for Panathinaikos to get within 54-52. Udoh made a jumper, but Nikos Pappas hit a floater and a runner on consecutive possessions to tie the game at 56-56 with three minutes to go in the qurter. After a Fenerbahce timeout, Pavlovic made a pair of foul shots that gave the visitors their first lead of the night, 56-58. However, the hosts finished the quarter with 6 unanswered points, as Udoh scored from close range and Bogdanovic made a nifty driving layup to give Fenerbahce a 62-58 advantage.
Fourth quarter: Antic’s triples help Fenerbahce hold on
Calathes hit a wild one-handed triple to beat the shot-clock, but Datome made a baseline jumper for the hosts. After free throws from Gist and Pavlovic cut it to 66-64, Udoh scored inside and Dixon made a steal and raced for a layup and a 6-point edge. Following a Panathinaikos timeout, Raduljica made a pair of foul shots, but Antic buried a corner three, extending the margin to . Panathinaikos kept getting to the foul line, and after a big dunk from Vesely, an equally big dunk from Gist made it 75-72. But Dixon nailed a jumper and Udoh scored a layup, before Antic sealed the deal with a triple, making it 82-72 with 1:08 to go. Gist gave the Greens hope with a three-pointer that snapped a 7-0 run, but Datome grabbed an offensive rebound on the next trip down the floor to secure victory for the hosts.
Wednesday, December 30, 2015