McCalebb, Fenerbahce KO Cantu, reach Top 16
In a do-or-die battle on the final day of Group A, Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul edged Mapooro Cantu 77-69 on Thursday to grab the last remaining Top 16 spot from the group. Fenerbahce advances with a 5-5 record, enough for the fourth place in the standings, while Cantu is eliminated and finishes its Euroleague campaign in sixth place with a 3-7 record. In the game in which neither team had a double-digit advantage, Fenerbahce grabbed their first lead with an 8-0 run in the second quarter and never trailed again. With the game on the line in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, Romain Sato had couple of crucial offensive rebounds and Omer Onan and Bo McCalebb made shots that sealed the deal and sent Fenerbahce into Top 16. McCalebb led the host with 19 points, Onan and Oguz Savas each scored 12 while Emir Preldzic and Bojan Bogdanovic had 10 apiece. Manuchar Marokishvili netted 20 points for Cantu, Marco Cusin had 16 and Pietro Aradori chipped in with 12 points in defeat.
First quarter: Cantu grabs an early advantage
Cusin and David Anderson traded jumpers to start the game, and with players from both teams hustling for every ball from the get-go, the visitors raced to a 6-12 lead in less than four minutes. Cusin hit two more jumpers, while Aradori and Jonathan Tabu hit three-pointers as Cantu scored on five consecutive possessions and forced Fenerbahce head coach Simone Pianigiani to call an early timeout. McCalebb and Ilkan Karaman scored inside to cut into the lead, but Maarty Leunen hit another triple for the visitors and Tabu sank a long two-pointer to give Cantu a 13-20 advantage. McCalebb answered with a drive, and after a put-back by Jeff Brooks, Onan’s triple made it 18-22 after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Fenerbahce takes its first lead with an 11-2 run
Savas opened the second quarter with a layup, and even though Markoishvili hit another Cantu triple, Karaman’s monster-dunk, and buckets inside from Baris Ermis and Bogdanovic gave Fenerbahce its first lead, 28-25. Cusin’s baseline jumper snapped an 8-0 run before Onan and Markoishvili traded shots from downtown, and Leunen fought his way inside for Cantu to regain the lead, 31-32. But, Bogdanovic promptly answered in the same manner starting a string of 6 individual points, concluded with a steal and an uncontested two-handed slam. Onan added a fastbreak layup for 39-32. Before the half, McCalebb was successful going inside, but Markoishvili’s buzzer-beater got a lucky roll on the rim, making it 43-38.
Third quarter: The hosts battle to stay in front
McCalebb continued his run of points with a layup at the start of the third quarter, but Cusin hit a turnaround jumper and Aradori layed it up on a fastbreak as Cantu got within 45-44. McCalebb went coast-to-coast to make it 8 consecutive Fenerbahce points and Andersen muscled his way inside to give the host some breathing room. A layup-plus-foul from Savas made it 52-46 before Karaman helped the visitors by tipping the ball through his own rim. An Aradori baseline jumper cut the margin to 2 points while ending Cantu’s drought of more than five minutes without a field goal made, but Emir Preldzic and Savas were a perfect 6 for 6 from the foul line to restore a 6-point lead. Aradori halved the margin with a triple, but Savas went inside to make it 60-55 after three quarters.
Fourth quarter: Fenerbahce hangs on for crucial win
Preldzic drove the lane to open the scoring in the fourth quarter and added a jumper to his tally. Markoishvili hit a triple to keep Cantu in range, however McCalebb answered with a triple of his own to extend to lead to 68-60, the largest margin of the night. Markoishvili hit another three and after Sato drove the baseline for a reverse layup, Cusin and Tabu hit long jumpers to cut the deficit to 72-67. After Onan answered with a long jump shot of his own, a couple of offensive rebounds from Sato extended Fenerbahce’s possession and took an entire minute off the clock. Cantu got closer with another Cusins’s baseline jump shot, but Tabu’s bad inbound pass gave Fenerbahce the ball with 65 seconds left on the clock and a 75-69 advantage. On the ensuing possession, McCalebb tipped in Onan’s driving layup attempt and sealed the deal, prompting big celebration's from the home team and its fans.
Thursday, December 13, 2012