One of the secrets of Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul is that this team never lacks for motivation.
Even in a Round 30 game that would change nothing in the standings for either team, the hosts found plenty of reason to fight back from a double-digit deficit to defeat Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv 78-75 on a memorable buzzer-beater by Kostas Sloukas.
With centers Jan Vesely and Joffrey Lauvergne out of action, Fenerbahce was short of yellow jerseys on its bench, but found inspiration in all the yellow in the stands.
Fenerbahce's fans will be much needed the rest of the season. So, even with an undersized lineup and no overt incentive, the team fought to do something for those fans that no EuroLeague team has done before in a 30-game regular season: win all 15 home games.
"To play tough, to play focused, to compete is not something that you can switch on and switch off like a button," Luigi Datome, the other protagonist of the victory, said. "Today was not important for us because we knew that we were going to be first. It was good, then, the attitude that we had to fight until the end like we always do."
Besides not seeing their team lose in person all season, the shot by Sloukas and the victory meant that Fenerbahce fans have seen more regular season victories by their team, 25, than any other fans have in EuroLeague history. Those 25 wins are one better than CSKA Moscow accomplished last year.
Those two milestones, the most home and total wins in a regular season, come on top of Fenerbahce having been the earliest playoffs qualifier in competition history back on February 8, in Round 22.
All that effort now leads to an extra game in front of those fans, if needed, when Fenerbahce takes on streaking Zalgiris Kaunas in the best-of-five playoffs, with Game 1 tipping off at home in Ulker Sports and Event Hall on Tuesday, April 16.
And there is no doubt that Fenerbahce and its fans are already ultra-motivated for that night.
"Now the season starts," Sloukas said after his big shot on Friday. "Today was a game without, let's say, numbers: win or lose, we were first. But I think we showed character, we found motivation."
They always do.