No other basketball competition offers such intensity so early in the season as the showdown between Fenerbahce BEKO Istanbul and CSKA Moscow in Ulker Sports Arena on Tuesday. It had playoffs-level intensity in mid-December! Two fantastic teams showing their best basketball; CSKA did it in the first half, Fenerbahce dominated after the break. There were outstanding individual performances and, above all, a thrilling basketball atmosphere created by the Fenerbahce fans, who ignited their team's second-half comeback with their energy and enthusiasm.
When the dust settled, however, the stats revealed a very unusual piece of data: Fenerbahce had limited CSKA to just one offensive rebound in the entire game. It was pretty obvious why in the first half, because CSKA was not really missing any shots. The Russian powerhouse hit 14 of 18 two-pointers and 5 of 9 threes before the break, and still managed to grab an offensive rebound. Indeed, CSKA led 12-13 in total rebounds at the break.
CSKA stopped making shots after the break, however, hitting just 6 of 16 inside the arc (37.5%) and 4 of 9 from downtown. The remarkable thing was that Fenerbahce did not allow any second-chance opportunities for CSKA in the second half, outrebounding the visitors by 25-8 and pulling down 9 offensive boards of its own in the final 20 minutes. Altogether, Fenerbahce finished the game with 14 offensive rebounds, giving the hosts 13 extra possessions with which to come back and eventually win the game. Fenerbahce's frontcourt – Jan Vesely, Nik Melli and Joffrey Lauvergne – combined for 12 offensive rebounds against CSKA.
It was a backcourt player, however, who led by example: Marko Guduric. He delighted all Fener fans with an all-around game: 15 points on 3 of 3 triples, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals and a block for a PIR of 18.
"Lately we were giving a lot of offensive rebounds to our opponents and we prepared the game that way. We did a good job. We were prepared for that," Guduric said after the game.
Fenerbahce coach Zeljko Obradovic praised his players for their fight and hustle after the game.
"Congratulations to the players and to the fans for the incredible atmosphere," Obradovic said. "I think that, at the end of the day, we won the game because of our offensive rebounds. This is good. We discussed about this and knew how important it was. I believe that in the end, we had 13 more possessions than CSKA. In basketball, this is a really big number."
Fenerbahce is on a nine-game winning streak in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season and visits Buducnost VOLI Podgorica on Thursday.