Caja Laboral downed Fenerbahce Ulker 66-69
Caja Laboral picked up a crucial 66-69 opening night road win over Fenerbahce Ulker at Abdi Ipekci Arena in Istanbul as Mirza Teletovic scored 23 and Pablo Prigioni controlled the backcourt with 7 assists and 6 steals. It was a thrilling finish as both teams held slim leads in the closing minutes and the hosts had the last possession with a chance to tie, but Omer Onan missed from downtown. Teletovic featured a few slams and 3 triples in his arsenal to lead the winners. Milko Bjelica added 12 points for Laboral and Kevin Seraphin netted 10 plus 6 rebounds in 15 minutes in his Turkish Airlines Euroleague debut. Onan finished with 16 to pace FB Ulker and Roko Ukic and James Gist added 10 apiece.
The action was fast and furious in the opening minutes with several misses before Ukic got the hosts going. Milko Bjelica countered with Laboral’s first basket of the season. Thomas Huertel made a pretty dish inside to Teletovic, who drew James Gist’s second foul just four minutes into the contest. But Teletovic missed twice from the line and Ukic scored from near and far to put the hosts ahead 9-4. Some exciting, yet sloppy, play ensued. Seraphin came in and made an impact for Laboral with an offensive rebound, foul drawn and 2 free throws. A Milko Bjelica jumper cut the lead to 13-10, however Onan basket-plus-foul kept Fener in control. Seraphin slammed home his own miss. Ukic floated one in at the buzzer to make it 20-12 through 10 minutes.
Laboral worked its way back with a pair of Fernando San Emeterio free throws and a Prigioni-led fast break for Reggie Williams’s first Euroleague basket. Seraphin inside followed by a Teletovic triple made for the visitors’ first lead of the night, 20-21. Curtis Jerrells eventually penetrated to end a 0-11 Laboral charge, but Teletovic responded with a three-pointer. Head coach Neven Spahija changed his entire frontline by bringing in Gist, Emir Preldzic and Gasper Vidmar at the next whistle. Vidmar paid quick dividends with a basket on the offensive glass, Gist soon sank a mid-range pull up and came through with a slam and Preldzic knotted the score at 30-30 from the line. Thabo Sefolosha brought the crown to its feet with a high-flying block of Milko Bjelica at the rim and Onan capitalized by putting the hosts ahead from the line. After trading baskets, Vidmar’s tip-in with 1.4 seconds remaining lifted Fener to a 36-34 halftime lead.
Sefolosha drained a triple early in the third quarter as the teams battled hard for baskets. Prigioni was a destructive force on defense, but Vidmar’s basket on the offensive glass kept the hosts ahead. Prigioni sent a laser to Teletovic, who threw down an impressive slam to make it 41-42 as one impressive play seemed to follow another. Seraphin sank a long jumper and Williams stormed through the Fenerbahce defense for a slam. Sefolosha got 2 points back for the hosts from the line, but Williams dropped off to Seraphin for a slam. Sefolosha came up with a steal and layup to make it 47-48. After a timeout, Prigioni struck back with a clutch triple and Williams got into the lane to lift the visitors to a 48-53 lead at the end of three quarters.
Teletovic continued his fine night with an offensive rebound and a high-flying two-handed slam for Laboral’s biggest lead of the night after the first possession of the fourth quarter. Onan fought back with a steal and basket and a Jerrells triple made it a one-basket game again. Huertel set up Milko Bjelica for a bucket inside, but Jerrells seemed to be heating up and his next triple made it 56-57. Gist completed the Fener comeback with a fade-away jumper over Teletovic, which led to a Laboral timeout. Brad Oleson’s first basket put Laboral on tip and Teletovic followed by rejecting Gist on a similar move to the previous one. A brilliant Prigioni pass to Milko Bjelica lifted the visitors to 58-61 with two-and-a-half minutes to play. Oguz Savas found Gist for a power slam, but Pau Ribas finished strong for Laboral as the excitement grew. Onan connected twice from the line only to see Teletovic bury a triple from the corner to give Laboral a 4-point lead. After Savas scored 2 from the line, Sefolosha missed a chance to tie it from the line with 29 seconds left. FB Ulker needed to use 3 fouls to get in the bonus and send Oleson to the line. The shooting guard sank 2 with 18 seconds left to make it a two-possession game, 64-68. Onan got to the line with 14.6 seconds left and converted twice. Fener quickly fouled Ribas, who made only 1 free throw, thus opening the door for the hosts. Ukic found a wide-open Onan at the top of the key, but his shot bounced out and Laboral managed to grab the rebound and claim a crucial road win.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011