First-placed Fenerbahce will look to mount a strong finish to the season starting Tuesday when it hosts Buducnost. Coach Zeljko Obradovic's charges are undefeated at home this season and entering their penultimate regular season game at Ulker Sports and Event Hall, though the team has already clinched home-court advantage for the playoffs. Buducnost, which has lost its last six games, cannot reach the playoffs this season but will take the challenge of winning in Istanbul seriously as Coach Jasmin Repesa continues preparing his talented young squad for big battles in seasons to come.
Last time they met
Fenerbahce pulled away in the second half to defeat Buducnost 65-89 at Moraca in the Montenegrin capital in Round 14 in December. The Turkish champs relied on star big man Jan Vesely, who shined with 19 points, 9 rebounds and 3 steals, while Joffrey Lauvergne added 17 points and Kostas Sloukas 11. Earl Clark paced Buducnost with 15 points. That game would prove to be Buducnost's last without rookie senstation Goga Bitadze and star guard Norris Cole, who both debuted in Round 15.
Both teams really heavily on their centers; All-EuroLeague center Jan Vesely leads Fenerbahce in scoring (13.1 ppg.), rebounding (5.4 rpg.) and steals (1.5 spg.). Still a teenager, Goga Bitadze has dominated the paint for Buducnost with 11.4 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game. Vesely is blessed with the size, speed and athletisicm to compete with any big man in the competition. Bitadze has hit some bumps in the road, as should be expected for a player his age, but as he figures things out he has learned to hold his own against some of the best. Vesely presents another test for Bitadze.
Keys to victory: Fenerbahce
Fenerbahce has lost four games so far this season and allowed an avearge of 91.0 points per game in those. In its 22 wins it has given up 73.1 points per game. Buducnost has averaged 72.9 points per game on the road and 72.4 points in losses this season. Those numbers point to a major advantage for Fenerbahce in a low-scoring game.
Keys to victory: Buducnost
Buducnost has struggled offensively this season and to win in Istanbul will need to hit some shots. Buducnost is 13th in the league in three-point shooting on the road (33.9%) and facing the league's best three-point team (44.5%). If Noris Cole, Edwin Jackson and Earl Clark are knocking down shots from the perimeter, it will open some things up for Goga Bitadza inside, too.