Datome strikes to lift Fenerbahce over Madrid
Luigi Datome scored a superb game-winner with six seconds remaining to give Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul a 65-63 victory over Real Madrid in a compelling heavyweight thriller, played in a spectacular atmosphere at Ulker Sports and Event Hall. Madrid led by 6 points inside the last two minutes but the home team launched a 8-0 run to finish the game, capped by Datome’s driving layup and one, to open up a two-game lead at the top of the standings and record an 11th straight victory. Datome was an appropriate game-winner, leading all scoring with 17 points and also securing 7 rebounds. Jan Vesely scored 13 points, Marko Guduric added 11 and Ali Muhammed had 10. Rudy Fernandez paced Madrid with 12 points, all in three-pointers.
A pair of dunks from Vesely and free throws from an unsportsmanlike call on Sergio Llull helped Fenerbahce pull away early on. Jaycee Carroll and Datome both scored twice, before Anthony Randolph and Vesely produced brutal slams, and the home team defense stood strong as Datome made a jumper for a 22-12 lead at the end of the first. Fernandez netted from deep twice to halve the deficit, and a long two from Trey Thompkins forced Fenerbahce into time out at 27-25. Baskets were hard to find for the remainder of the first half, but Thompkins netted a layup in the dying seconds for a 32-32 tie at the break. Datome opened the second half scoring before Nicolo Melli tipped in, but Gustavo Ayon responded to tie. Melih Mahmutoglu came off the bench to fire a triple and Datome banked one in, but Randolph and Ayon dunked before Llull scored his first points for a 41-42 lead. Datome immediately restored the lead for Fenerbahce and Llull was ejected for a technical foul as the third quarter finished 48-44. Randolph’s triple pulled it back to a one-point game, but 7 quick points from Muhammed retained Fenerbahce’s lead. A pair of baskets from Carroll kept Madrid in touch, before a tip-in by Walter Tavares followed by another three from Fernandez and a runner from Facundo Campazzo capped a 0-9 run to make it 57-63. A triple from Guduric gave Fenerbahce life, and a put-back slam from Vesely made it 62-63 inside the final minute. Thompkins missed, giving Fenerbahce one possession to win it, and Datome made it count with a determined drive to the basket and acrobatic finish with a foul. Madrid had six seconds left but Campazzo couldn’t score, sending Fenerbahce fans into wild celebrations.
Scoring runs decisive in big battle between top two
The big battle between the last two Turkish Airlines EuroLeague champions was every bit as hard-fought as you would expect. Fenerbahce ended the first quarter with an 11-2 run to take a 12-point lead, but Madrid responded with a 3-13 run in the second period and it was close the rest of the way. Neither team led by more than 6 points, which was the margin after Madrid’s 0-9 run in the fourth quarter appeared to sentence the game. But Fenerbahce had the final word with another run, 8-0, to close out the game.
Llull suffers tough night and ejection
There was also a big story in Madrid’s backcourt, where Sergio Llull could not produce his usual inspiration. Llull was assessed with two fouls, including one sportsmanlike, in the first quarter. He headed to the bench and didn’t return until the third quarter, when he initially avoided further foul trouble but was then handed a technical foul – and thereby ejected – for a show of dissent. Llull finished with just two points, making 1-of-5 field goal attempts, and a PIR of minus 3.
Guduric compensates for Sloukas absence
Fenerbahce was handed a blow shortly before tip-off with the news that Kostas Sloukas was ruled out with a throat infection. But his absence was compensated by the versatile Marko Guduric, who took over Sloukas’s usual role by delivering the first two assists of the game for Jan Vesely, and went on to amass 4 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 blocked shot by the end of the first quarter. Guduric couldn’t maintain that pace but he returned to the fore in crunch time, breaking a 0-9 Madrid run with a clutch triple inside the final two minutes to spark his team’s comeback.
Madrid tips off the second half of the regular season with a home game against Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv in a rematch of the 2014 Championship Game, while Fenerbahce stays at home to welcome KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz, replaying last season’s playoffs series.
Friday, December 28, 2018