Fenerbahce off to its best start this century!
Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul earned its best start this century in the Euroleague by holding off JSF Nanterre for an 83-66 home win that was much closer than the score indicates on Thursday. Nanterre cut the difference to 68-64 with 4:20 before Fenerbahce blasted off for a closing run of 15-2 in the game's last 3 minutes. Fenerbahce improved to 5-0, at least two victories more than any Group A team at the halfway mark of the regular season, while Nanterre dropped to 2-3. Bojan Bodganovic matched his league-leading scoring average with 20 points for the winners, while Emir Preldzic added 16, Nemanja Bjelica 15, Bo McCalebb 10 and Linas Kleiza 9. For Nanterre, Ali Traore put up 20 points, Will Daniels 13 and Sergii Gladyr 10. Fenerbahce's ability to get to the foul line and make 22 of 28 free throws proved more than enough to offset 4 of 7 foul shooting for the visitors. Fenerbahce's previous best start in the Euroleague was 4-0 in 2010-11.
First quarter: Bogdanovic solves Nanterre defense
Bogdanovic wasted no time slashing through the Nanterre defense to open the scoring. Preldzic soon drove the lane to make it 4-0 before Traore got Nanterre's first points at the free throw line. Gasper Vidmar's inside basket was answered by a jumper from David Lighty at 6-4. Bjelica and Traore traded inside baskets, as well, before Bogdanovic's post-up turnaround was bested by Gladyr, hitting the game's first three-pointer at 10-9. When Daniels put back an offensive rebound, Trent Meacham stole and Lighty finished a break, Nanterre suddenly had a 0-7 run and a 10-13 lead. Preldzic got 2 points back on a runner and then Bjelica fed Bogdanovic for a go-ahead three-pointer, Fenerbahce's first. Next, Bogdanovic went back to the post for a bank shot at 17-13. Preldzic stretched the hosts' run at the free throw line to 9-0 before Daniels put back his own miss. Mam Jaiteh stepped in then and dropped a hook shot to narrow the difference before Daniels drove and scored for a 19-19 tie. Luka Zoric restored Fenerbahce's lead at the free throw line, then McCalebb used the last possession for a transition layup and a 23-19 advantage for the hosts after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Bjelica, Kleiza join forces
More than 3 scoreless minutes to start the second quarter ended with Bjelica's acrobatic drive and finger roll, giving Fenerbahce its biggest lead yet, 25-19. After a Nanterre timeout, Melih Mahmutoglu finished a picture-perfect fastbreak for the hosts, whose defense kept forcing bad shots on Nanterre. When Bjelica hit a fall-back jumper and the subsequent free throw, the lead reached double-digits, 30-19. Gladyr scored Nanterre's first points in 5 minutes and then Jekel Foster followed him with a triple, but Bogdanovic and Bjelica added layups to keep a 34-24 difference. Gladyr's layup was then answered by a three-point play from Kleiza before Preldzic hit a free throw for another high lead, 38-26. Traore tried to lower that, hitting 3 consecutive baskets to offset free throws by Vidmar and a layup by Preldzic, but Kleiza was there to put back a miss on the buzzer as Fenerbahce kept its 12-point lead, 44-32, at halftime.
Third quarter: Nanterre refuses to go away
A fastbreak dunk by Bogdanovic was answered with a three-pointer by Gladyr to start the second half. Daniels then finished a tough layup that cut the difference back to single digits at 46-37. Bjelica's three-pointer and a Zoric layup quickly made it 51-37, but Daniels fought for an inside basket and DeShaun Thomas a pair of them to make it 51-43. Marc Judith took the visitor's closer with 2 free throws, forcing a Fenerbahce timeout to try to halt Nanterre's 0-8 run. Preldzic did that at the free throw line, and after a scoring lull by both teams, Kleiza dropped a nice jump-hook, restoring a double-digit difference, 55-45. Mahmutoglu ended a broken play with a big triple that Jaiteh answered with a hook shot. Then, on the last play of the third quarter, Lighty assisted Meacham in the corner for a three-pointer that got Nanterre within 58-50 after 30 minutes.
Fourth quarter: McCalebb, Bogdanovic lead strong finish
McCalebb's triple made Nanterre pay for a costly turnover that might have cut the lead further at the start of the final quarter, but Jeremy Nzeulie got 2 points back on a fine spin move. Traore added a running layup at 61-54 that Predlzic matched with free throws. Traore got loose for a pair of easy layups separated by free throws from Kleiza, and when Daniels drained an open triple in transition, Nanterre was suddenly within 4 points, 65-61, with under 5 minutes to play. After a Fenerbahce timeout, Gladyr fouled Preldzic on the arc, resulting in 3 free throws made for the hosts. However, Foster matched them with a single shot at the other end to make it 68-64. Another rare, unforced turnover by Nanterre led to a huge triple by McCalebb, and then Bogdanovic got fouled and hit both shots to make it 73-64. When, after a pair of Nanterre three-point misses, Bogdanovic rattled in his own shot from the arc, the notion of an upset seemed long gone and Fenerbahce Ulker had its best start of the century in the Euroleague!
Thursday, November 14, 2013