A memorable season saw Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul qualify to the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four for the first time in club history, and in so doing, become the first Turkish team to do so in a decade and a half. Now, Fenerbahce aims to finish its season in unprecedented fashion by lifting the Euroleague crown on its first try.
Fenerbahce is the hottest team arriving to Madrid after having dominated the toughest part of the season by winning 13 of its last 14 games prior to the Final Four, including the only three-game sweep of the playoffs. That near-perfect run also included road wins against two of the other Final Four teams, CSKA Moscow and Olympiacos Piraeus. Both of those came during a stretch of nine consecutive victories away from home that bridged the regular season and the Top 16, tying Fenerbahce for the second-longest road winning streak in Euroleague history of the competition. All told, Fenerbahce was unbeaten in games outside Turkey for exactly five months and two days.
That streak helped propel Fenerbahce to second place in its Top 16 group and to secure home-court advantage in the playoffs for the first time. In that playoffs series against outgoing champion Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv, Fenerbahce excelled on the boards, leading all playoff teams in both offensive and defensive rebounding. In fact, Fenerbahce averaged more rebounds in the series than any other winning team in the history of the playoffs. Paced by Jan Vesely and Nemanja Bjelica, Fenerbahce shook off a slow start and pulled out a come-from-behind 80-72 win in the series opener. Andrew Goudelock joined Bjelica in Game 2 as Fenerbahce cruised to an 82-67 decision. The third game in Tel Aviv was an instant classic: Nikos Zisis had his best game of the season, Vesely crushed a dunk to force overtime and Goudelock drove for a game-winning layup with 9.1 seconds in the extra period to lift Fenerbahce to a 74-75 win, a series sweep and a spot in Madrid.
Following its impressive streak and playoff series, Fenerbahce is hungry for more. Although this will be its Final Four debut, Fenerbahce has the Euroleague's most successful coach ever, Zeljko Obradovic, overseeing a loaded roster that has everything it takes to keep making history.
SIGNPOSTS OF THE SEASON
REGULAR SEASON ROUND 5: GOUDELOCK ROCKS
Fenerbahce Ulker defeated FC Bayern Munich 86-93, as Andrew Goudelock set a new Euroleague single-game record by making 10 three-point shots out of 13 attempts to finish with 34 points.
TOP 16 ROUND 8: CONFIRMING ITS POWER
Among its 9 consecutive road games, none echoed around the Euroleague more than its 75-81 triumph against CSKA in Moscow as Nemanja Bjelica led the charge with 11 points and 13 rebounds.
TOP 16 ROUND 10: ANOTHER BIG ROAD WIN
Not ready to give up its streak, Fenerbahce two weeks later defeated mighty Olympiacos in Piraeus by 64-73. Goudelock fired in 6-of-7 three-point shots on his way to 24 points, while Bjelica added 16.
PLAYOFFS GAME 1: VESELY CAN FLY
Fenerbahce rallied to top Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv 80-72 in their playoffs series opener. Jan Vesely was unstoppable with 23 points on 11-of-14 two-point shooting in 21 minutes full of pure energy.
PLAYOFFS GAME 3: FENER MAKES HISTORY!
History was made in Tel Aviv as Fenerbahce reached the Final Four for the first time by eliminating last year's champion, Maccabi, with a 74-75 victory on a layup late in overtime by Goudelock. Nikos Zisis shined with 19 points.