Obradovic's Fenerbahce Ulker edges Panathinaikos
After dominating early, Fenerbahce Ulker held on late to edge Panathinaikos Athens 77-72 for the club’s first Top 16 victory. Linas Kleiza made a pair of big shots in the final minute to help seal the win for Coach Zeljko Obradovic's side, which handed Panathinaikos its first Top 16 loss. It was all Fenerbahce until Loukas Mavrokefalidis scored all the points in a 0-9 run to bring Panathinaikos back. Dimitris Diamantidis threes in the fourth helped complete the comeback and set up a thrilling finish that featured four lead changes and three ties in the final six minutes until Kleiza put the game away. Bojan Bogdanovic paced the winners with 15 points, Nemanja Bjelica and Kleiza added 13 apiece, Emir Preldzic scored 12 and Bo McCalebb 10. Ramel Curry led Panathinaikos with 14 points, Mavrokefalidis finished with 11 and Diamantidis tallied 9 points and 8 assists in defeat.
First quarter: Preldzic, McCalebb propel hosts to early lead
After several missed jumpers on both ends, Luka Zoric for the hosts and James Gist for the visitors opened the scoring with free throws. Preldzic dropped in a runner for the game’s first basket and his triple from the top of the key soon made it 6-4. Bjelica with a layup and free throws helped extend the gap to 6 midway through the quarter. Jonas Maciulis narrowed the difference to 12-8. McCalebb took center stage with a pair of layups – the second after an offensive rebound and drive to the hoop – as the hosts doubled up the visitors, 16-8. A timeout did not change the momentum as Preldzic drained a three from the corner. After seven missed Panathinaikos threes, Diamantidis finally sank one. Bogdanovic missed a pair of free throws, but Kleiza’s offensive rebound led to a McCalebb layup. The diminutive playmaker then made 2 free throws to give the hosts a 23-11 lead through 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Strong defense keeps Fenerbahce in control
Curry came in and drained a three for the Greens. Gasper Vidmar rejected Gist at the rim and Bogdanovic returned to form with 2 free throws. Gist scored on the offensive glass, but Preldzic answered quickly to make it 27-16. Vidmar recorded a second block on Gist as the Fenerbahce defense proved tough. Even after Maciulis stepped up with a three, Omer Onan responded in kind. Preldzic thrilled the crowd with a halfcourt assist to Kleiza for a 13-point edge. Baskets by Mike Batiste and Curry gave Panathinaikos hope. The big man missed a chance to cut further into the deficit when he missed 3 free throws, but Curry sank a three to bring the Greens within 34-26, which prompted a Fenerbahce timeout. Bjelica sank a triple, but Batiste banked in a jumper. A Bogdanovic jumper and Bjelica block at the buzzer protected a 39-28 halftime lead.
Third quarter: Mavrokefalidis singlehandedly restores Greens’ hope
Bogdanovic kept the crowd involved with a steal and slam and a short jumper, though Maciulis scored in between. Free throws by Curry and Lasme brought Panathinaikos within 10. Bogdanovic remained strong with the next 4 points to make it 47-33. Curry scored on the break, but Bjelica kept the big margin for the home side. Mavrokefalidis came off the bench and took charge for the visitors. He scored on four of the next five Panathinaikos possessions – drawing fouls on three of them – to score all the points in a 0-9 run that carried his team within 49-44. Vidmar ended Fenerbahce’s drought after two minutes and Kleiza added free throws. Roko Ukic’s layup in traffic and an incredible follow-slam by Gist kept the visitors alive. After free throws by Mavrokefalidis and Bogdanovic, the hosts led 56-50.
Fourth quarter: Multiple lead changes, ties, set up fantastic finish
Kleiza netted the first basket of the fourth quarter, but a Diamantidis three kept the Greens within 5. Diamantidis and Lasme got together on a highlight-film alley-oop to make it a 3-point game. Diamantidis’s third three of the night tied the game for the first time since the opening minutes, 58-58. Kleiza got to the line to restore a Fenerbahce edge,but a Mike Bramos triple put Panathinaikos ahead 60-61. The lead changed hands on a McCalebb jumper and another Bramos three. Bjelica tied the game at 64-64 with three minutes remaining. Antonis Fotsis fired in his first three; Onan matched him. Lasme took a seat with 5 fouls and Onan put the hosts ahead, 68-67, on the resulting free throws. After Fotsis missed a tough three, Kleiza sank a clutch triple with a minute to go. After a timeout, Curry darted for a layup to make it 71-69. However Kleiza sank a killer jumper, Diamantidis missed a three and Bogdanovic eyed an open Zoric for a slam to lock up the victory.
Thursday, January 23, 2014