GAME BLOG, Semifinals

May 15, 2015 by Print
GAME BLOG, Semifinals

Fener rallies, but too little, too late

If there was any chance of a comeback, Llull’s triple that made it 87-72 practically sealed it. It was Madrid’s 14th three-pointer of the game, which tied a Final Four record for most three-pointers by a team. Fener was not giving up. Melih Mahmutoglu made it a 10 point-game with two minutes to go, but Rudy connected on 4 free throws on the next two Madrid possessions to ice the game.

Madrid - Friday, May 15, 22:55

Rivers is a difference maker tonight

Big game by K.C. Rivers. He was 5-for-5 from downtown before missing one early in the fourth quarter. A couple of possessions before that he buried a triple to start the quarter after making four long range shots in as many attempts during the second. His has 17 of Madrid’s 53 points off the bench. For comparison, Fenerbahce got only 20 points from its bench. Bjelica has 11 of those, but he has fouled out of the game after getting a technical for complaining for a non-call on his driving layup. Vesely was called for an unsportsmanlike foul on the next possession, as the things are getting a little tense with just under six minutes to go and Madrid up by 15.

Madrid - Friday, May 15, 22:45

Rodriguez focuses his troops

Rudy Fernandez - Real Madrid - Final Four Madrid 2015 - EB14

After a drive to the hoop and drawing the fifth personal foul by Slaughter, MVP Bjelica grabbed his ankle. But he stayed in the game as he has been trying to facilitate things for Fenerbahce, which managed to come up with few defensive stands and cut the deficit to 71-57. However, it was last year’s MVP Sergio Rodriguez who made the plays, hitting a triple and feeding Ayon to push the margin back to 19 points, and quiet down the Fenerbahce fans, who got their comeback hopes up. Fenerbahce upped its interior defense after the halftime, but the deficit is 76-59 going into the final period.

Madrid - Friday, May 15, 22:32

The turnover story

Jan Vesely - Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul - EB14

If the second quarter performance was not enough, Madrid opened the second half with a pair of triples within 6 seconds of each other. Llull and Fernandez made it 61-35. It’s worth noting that Madrid committed its first turnover with 5:46 left in the third quarter, after 24 minutes and 14 seconds of play when Marcus Slaughter committed an offensive foul. Euroleague Rising Star Award winner Bogdan Bogdanovic got Fener going, but because of its 11 turnovers, Fenerbahce has taken 13 fewer field goal attempts than Madrid and they are down 67-51 midway through the third quarter.

Madrid - Friday, May 15, 22:19

Can Coach Obradovic find the answer?

Turkish Tourism Barjots Dunkers had a tough task during halftime to excite the crowd the way Madrid did in the second quarter. It was one of the most dominant quarters in the Final Four history, as Real Madrid needed less than eight minutes to turn a 1-point deficit into a 21-point lead. During that span the hosts made 13 of 17 field goals, went 6 for 8 from three-point range, dished 11 assists and forced 5 turnovers. Coach Zeljko Obradovic has won more titles that any other coach, but his team is in a 20-point hole with 20 minutes to play.

Madrid - Friday, May 15, 22:15

Los Blancos eyeing the record books?

Nocioni gave his all. After Rivers nailed a triple for a 42-27 advantage, he asked to be subbed, and went to the bench with ovations from the home crowd. His energy got Los Blancos going, as they proceeded to score 9 consecutive field goal attempts, and 11 of their 12 shots during the second quarter; Six of those shots from behind the three-point line. Madrid goes into the halftime with stunning 18 assists and 0 turnovers and 55-35 lead. Math tells us if Madrid continues at this pace offensively, it will break the 100-point mark – easily, and could challenge Maccabi’s all-time Final Four mark of 118 points in 2004.

Madrid - Friday, May 15, 21:55

Madrid’s answer comes swiftly

What Zoric did for Fenerbahce in the first, Andres Nocioni and Gustavo Ayon paired up to do for Madrid early in the second quarter. Nocioni fired up the crowd with a basket-plus foul, before Ayon made key plays – scoring, assisting, stealing, rebounding. Madrid suddenly has a double-digit lead, 34-23. It is the first lead of 10 or more points at the Final Four this year. It came as result of 7 offensive boards, 11 assists on 14 field goals, and 0 turnovers by Madrid.

Madrid - Friday, May 15, 21:37

Vesely gets bonus style points with slams

The atmosphere is fantastic, and Fenerbahce has louder support in the Barclaycard Center than hometown favorite Real Madrid so far. Zoric, who started with so much all-important energy for Fener quickly committed his second personal foul. Wingmen Rudy Fernandez and Jaycee Carroll got Madrid going. Carroll has started only six of 28 games this season. The coaches soon started to rotate; Rodriguez made the difference for Madrid, but so far it has been Jan Vesely making highlight reels with a couple of thunderous dunks and Emir Preldzic sank a buzzer-beating jumper for a 20-21 Fener cushion after 10 minutes. Madrid had a turnover-free quarter, but is still down by 1.

Madrid - Friday, May 15, 21:25

Obradovic makes great move, Zoric makes Fenerbahce history

Coach Obradovic wasn't kidding at the press conference before the tournament. Euroleague bwin MVP Nemanja Bjelica has starting on the bench. So is veteran point guard Nikos Zisis. It is Kenan Sipahi at the point guard and Luka Zoric battling inside in the opening minutes. And Zoric entered the Fenerhahce history books; he made club's the first ever personal foul at the Final Fours, he grabbed the first rebound, attempted first shot, made the first basket and recorded the first block. After the opening three minutes, one would say Obradovic made a great move.

Madrid - Friday, May 15, 21:06

Making his case as a living legend

There have been a great many legends in European basketball; 50 of them were honored here at Barclaycard Center in 2008 when Madrid last hosted the Final Four. If he hadn’t done so before, Vassilis Spanoulis placed himself among the very best on that list with another clutch performance on Friday night. Spanoulis missed his first 11 shots, but then made 4 big ones and scored 11 fourth-quarter points. he made the go-ahead triple, added a pull-up jumper over a defender and worked his special brand of magic to stun CSKA Moscow again and put Olympiacos in its third Turkish Airlines Euroleague Championship Game in four years!

Madrid - Friday, May 15, 20:10

Extra possessions keep Reds in the game

Spanoulis hit his first field goal, a triple, after missing first 11 shots. And with 6 points from Sloukas, and another triple from Spanoulis, Olympiacos is suddenly in the lead with 1:58 to go, forcing a CSKA timeout. Olympiacos has 16 offensive rebounds, with eight different players grabbing at least 1. That’s some team effort and those extra possessions kept them in the game. They also got to the free throw line 14 times in the second half. Olympiacos has the lead and the best clutch player in the game. Let’s see if CSKA bounces back.

Madrid - Friday, May 15, 19:48

CSKA goes small and Teodosic briefly gets hot

Milos Teodosic - CSKA Moscow - Final Four Madrid 2015 - EB14

After playing three big guys most of the first half, early in the fourth CSKA went small with three guards, leaving Kyle Hines and Demetris Nichols as the tallest players at 2.03 meters. During that period, Teodosic briefly got it going. He scored 8 consecutive points, plus an out-of-bounds triple from 9 meters out. That one did not count, but you figure he was suddenly feeling it when he makes even those kinds of shots. We might never find out, however, since he committed his fourth personal foul and is out of the game. By the way, Jackson has 7 steals, a Final Four record and CSKA has a 59-51 lead with under 5 minutes to go.

Madrid - Friday, May 15, 19:35

Get ready for some drama

CSKA is the best scoring team this season, and one of the highest-scoring teams in Euroleague history, but it is in the lead in this contest because of its defensive effort. They are protecting the rim with 6 blocks, and they have 11 steals to go with it. CSKA is holding the Reds’ shooting percentages well in the 30s, having allowed only 4 points in six minutes of the third quarter. CSKA has a 73-41 performance index rating advantage, but despite it all, Olympiacos is in the game going into the fourth quarter thanks to things you cannot see in the stats - its physicality, fighting spirit, never-die-attitude and grit. Get ready for some drama, it is 51-47 after 30 minutes.

Madrid - Friday, May 15, 19:23

Is cold Spanoulis an omen?

Brent Petway - Olympiacos Piraeus - Final Four Madrid 2015 - EB14

Jackson started the second half for CSKA, and his steal, fast break layup that followed and assist for Sasha Kaun is exactly what Coach Itoudis must have hoped to get from him. It prompted Olympiacos Coach Sfairopoulos to take out Mantzaris and put Lafayette in the game. We will see if it means Mantzaris will play solely against Teodosic who is on the bench. Another star not used to taking a seat on the bench early in the second half is Spanoulis, who is shooting field goals 0 for 9 so far and was pulled out for 45 seconds into the third minute of the third quarter. However, remember that Spanoulis was cold in the first half of the 2013 Championship Game, only to score 21 points the rest of the way and lead Olympiacos to the title.

Madrid - Friday, May 15, 19:!2

Golden Power Show provides halftime highlights

The halftime show at Barclaycard Center was amazing, with the world-acclaimed Golden Power Show displaying a fantastic choreography of balance and strength. The players and coaches, of course, did not get to see these two Hungarians painted in gold perform. It will be interesting to see the adjustments Dimitris Itoudis and Giannis Sfairopoulos are going to make coming out of the locker rooms. Other than trying to get Teodosic and Spanoulis going, we are curious if CSKA will continue getting hurt by Printezis and the unlikely protagonist so far, Papapetrou. Meanwhile, the Russian side will probably try to keep getting to the free throw line. CSKA has shot 14 of 18 from the foul line so far, compared to only 2 of 2 for Olympiacos. Luckily for the team from Piraeus, none of the players are in foul trouble so far, but its big men could end up in danger. Sfairopolous has used all 12 of his players, and 10 of them have at least 1 personal foul, while Darden, Papapetrou, as well as centers Dunston and Hunter each have 2.

Madrid - Friday, May 15, 18:59

Big stars struggling

Nando de Colo - CSKA Moscow

If you consider All-Euroleague First Team selections Milos Teodosic and Vassilis Spanoulis motors of their each respective team, you have to notice that both sides have done well offensively without their main scorers in the first half. Spanoulis has missed his first 8 shots from the field; a pair of free throws are his only points. He does have 3 seals and 2 assists, but also 3 turnovers for an index rating of -4. Teodosic attempted only 2 triples so far - and missed both – and in addition to being scoreless he also has 5 turnovers. Teodosic did dish 4 assists, the most in the game so far, and his index rating is -2.

Madrid - Friday, May 15, 18:51

Reserves leading the charge for both sides

The backcourt of Nando De Colo and Aaron Jackson was the key to CSKA’s lead. Offensively, De Colo was finding mismatches, and Jackson’s aggressive play and penetration to the hoop helped built a 7-point margin for CSKA. The two of them scored 7 points apiece off the bench so far, but no other of their teammates off the bench scored a basket so far. On the other end, the bench kept the Reds’ close as Oliver Lafayette and Brent Petway each hit a triple, while Papapetrou - the biggest surprise - scored 9 points for Olympiacos to regain the lead, 27-28 midway through the second quarter.

Madrid - Friday, May 15, 18:34

Printezis keeping Olympiacos afloat early

Each coach rotated 10 players in the opening quarter, a little unusual for a high-pressure game such as the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four semifinals. The only starter on the floor in the final 90 seconds of the first period was Georgios Printezis, who is also your leading scorer so far with 6 points. The Reds’ captain made all three of his shots, all from close-range so far, and has a performance index rating of 10. The rest of his teammates combined for an index rating of 5; CSKA is up 20-17 with Andrey Vorontsevich, Aaron Jackson and De Colo making the biggest contributions.

Madrid - Friday, May 15, 18:21

Papapetrou steps into big role

Olympiacos started with Tremmell Darden on Andrei Kirilenko, but the matchup worked in favor of the experienced Russian. Darden committed a pair of quick fouls in the first two and a half minutes and a youngster Ioannis Papapetrou took over the tough task of covering CSKA’s former Euroleague MVP. Olympiacos very early got into the bonus, and CSKA has already shot 6 free throws in less than six minutes. On the other end, Sonny Weems spent the opening minutes guarding Vassilis Spanoulis, but was the first one to the bench with Nando De Colo taking over the same defensive duty. And it is De Colo whose three-pointer and a dish to Kirilenko helped open a 15-9 CSKA lead. But Papapetrou followed with a three giving him 5 points and matching his total from the entire four-game playoff series against FC Barcelona.

Madrid - Friday, May 15, 18:14

Welcome to the BarclayCard Center in Madrid!

Kyle Hines, warm-up

Everything is ready for the 2015 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four!'s staff is ready to give you in-depth information about each game played at Barclaycard Center. Olympiacos Piraeus and CSKA Moscow are already warming up. Matt Lojeski, who missed yesterday's practice due to illness, is on court and expected to play against CSKA. Doors have been opened and some fans have already arrived to Barclaycard Center. Remember, CSKA has the best offense in the 2014-15 Turkish Airlines Euroleague (87.8 ppg.) and Olympiacos is the best defense (71.2 ppg.) to setting the right game tempo is clearly one of the biggest keys to this game. A physical battle is expected under the boards and rebounding well is very important. CSKA outrebounded Olympiacos 44-33 in its Top 16 win against the Reds, 76-70, but Olympiacos won that battle when (31-29) it downed the Russian powerhouse at home, 84-76. All is set for a great game! Follow it as it happens LIVE in the Game Blog!

Madrid - Friday, May 15, 17:06