Real Madrid heads to third straight final after beating Fenerbahce
Real Madrid dominated the second quarter and then held on the rest of the way for a 96-87 victory over Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul in the second semifinal at the 2015 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four at Barclaycard Center in Madrid. Los Blancos will face Olympiacos Piraeus in Sunday’s championship game, which is also a rematch of the 2013 final, which Olympiacos won in London. Gustavo Ayon starred for the winners with a season-high 18 points plus 7 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals. K.C. Rivers added 17 points on 5of-6 three-point shooting; Madrid’s 14 three-pointers tied a Final Four record! Sergio Rodriguez tallied 13 points and 7 assists, Sergio Llull scored 12 and dished 9 assists and Andres Nocioni and Rudy Fernandez also scored 12 apiece. Andrew Goudelock racked up 26 points to lead Fenerbahce, which played its first ever Final Four game. Jan Vesely recorded 20 points and 10 rebounds, Rising Star Award winner Bogdan Bogdanovic added 12 and freshly crowned Euroleague MVP Nemanja Bjelica scored 11 before fouling out. He was one of five players that fouled out in what was a very physical game. Things were close early as the first quarter featured eight lead changes. But a 14-2 run to start the second quarter put Madrid in control. After back-to-back threes by Llull and Rudy to start the second half made it 61-35, Madrid cruised. Fenerbahce did not quit and closed the gap to 10 with two minutes remaining, but ran out of time to seriously threaten.
First quarter: Early buzzer beaters promise drama
Both teams missed their first shots; Luka Zoric got Fenerbahce on the scoreboard first with a layup 90 seconds into the contest. After a pair of offensive rebounds for Madrid, Llull broke the ice for Madrid. Vesely displayed his acrobatics with a drive and layup and Zoric added a jumper. Ayon scored and then drew an offensive foul from Zoric, who took a seat on the bench. A second foul on Kenan Sipahi also sent him to the bench with Nikos Zisis coming on. Rudy tied the game at 6-6 with 2 free throws. After Goudelock scored, Rudy put Madrid ahead with a triple. Then Jaycee Carroll added a foul-line jumper. Oguz Savas made free throws and after a TV timeout, Jan Vesely’s put-back slam brought the Fenerbahce faithful to their feet. But Rodriguez answered with a three to beat the shot-clock buzzer for a 14-12 lead. Bogdanovic countered with a triple, but Ayon scored again and Rodriguez converted on the break. However Fenerbahce was right back through Vesely, who netted 2 free throws and took a pass from Bjelica for a thunder slam. Nocioni found a hole in the Fenerbahce defense and exploited it for a layup. An Emir Preldzic buzzer-beating jumper gave Fenerbahce a 20-21 lead after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: 14-2 surge puts Madrid in control
Nocioni made his presence felt with a three-point play and an assist to Ayon for another score inside. An Ayon tip-in made it 7 straight Madrid points to start the quarter. Fenerbahce called timeout, but Madrid hands in the passing lanes led to another steal, an Ayon layup and an 8-point lead. Zisis found Vesely for another slam, however Ayon kept the momentum with Los Blancos as he scored on the offensive glass again and Rodriguez found Rivers for a three that beat the 24-second clock and gave his team a 34-23 lead. Goudelock sank 2 free throws only to see Ayon put his seventh basket in. Goudelock replied with a basket-and-foul, but Madrid wasn’t slowing down. Nocioni and Rivers netted back-to-back threes for a 15-point advantage midway through the quarter. Bjelic split free throws – the first point for the Euroleague MVP – but Jonas Maciulis bettered him with a long jumper. Bjelica looked to get going with a three from the wing, but Rodriguez matched him. Bjelica got to the line again, but only made 1 shot. Rivers added 2 more threes for a 53-32 difference. Vesely threw down another wicked dunk and Ayon and Vesely each made free throws as Madrid went to the locker rooms with a healthy 55-35 lead.
Third quarter: Fener fights back with 2-11 spurt
Fenerbahce’s hopes of a comeback suffered a slow when Llull and Rudy opened the second half with back-to-back threes. Goudelock answered with a three, but Carroll nailed another for Madrid. After Zoric scored at one end, he engaged in some pushing and shoving with Rudy at the other end, which resulted in double technicals. Ayon committed his third foul and received a warm ovation on his way to the bench. Vesely added free throws and Goudelock used a pretty move to get a baseline layup. Marcus Slaughter sank free throws, but Bogdanovic brought Fenerbahce back to within 20 with his second three-pointer. Bogdanovic added free throws to cap a 2-11 run that close the gap to 66-48. Melih Mahutoglu connected on his first three and after a timeout. Then Bjelica got to the line and gave his team hope by getting the deficit down to 14. Llull came back with a steal and 2 free throws, but Vesely dunked again at the other end. Rivers free throws were cancelled by Zisis’s mid-range jumper. Rodriguez hit a three and assisted Ayon as the Madrid lead moved back towards 20. After a Bogdanovic basket and an impressive Nocioni rejection of Goudelock, the score stood at 76-59.
Fourth quarter: Late Fenerbahce rally falls short
Rivers looked to ice the game with his fifth three of the night. Goudelock continued getting to the rim and scored via goaltending. Nocioni restored a 20-point Madrid advantage and the crowd applauded Ayon when he saved a loose ball. Bogdanovic made free throws, then Bjelica made free throws and a layup, but the MVP fouled out with a technical foul. Carroll made the free throw and Preldzic’s unsportsmanlike foul on Nocioni and following technical foul helped extend the difference to 84-67 after Nocioni a free throw each by Nocioni and Carroll. Goudelock countered with a layup and foul. Then Vesely split free throws after Felipe Reyes fouled out. Goudelock cut the gap to 12, but Llull responded with a three. Ayon was next to foul out in this physical fourth quarter. Vesely sank 2 free throws, but Llull buried a shot over Mahmutoglu. Goudelock connected on his first three to make it 89-77 with three minutes remaining. Ioannis Bourousis scored his first point with a free throw for Madrid. Goudelock gave Fenerbahce hope with another tough shot. And after a pair of Rodriguez free throws, Mahmutoglu’s triple made it 92-82. Rudy connected on 4 free throws on the next two Madrid possessions to ice the game.
Friday, May 15, 2015