On this day last season, Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul advanced to the Final Four with a record-breaking 82-99 road victory at Zalgiris Kaunas. With this win, the visitors wrapped up the best-of-five playoff series, ousting Zalgiris 3-1 to reach the Final Four for the fifth consecutive season. This series featured two of the hottest EuroLeague teams, as top-seeded Fenerbahce finished the regular season with a record 25 regular-season wins, while once written-off Zalgiris won its last six regular-season games to sneak into the playoffs. The series then saw Fenerbahce hold Zalgiris to a club record-low 43 points in Game 1, only for Zalgiris to steal a thrilling Game 2 in Istanbul. However, Fenerbahce restored control of the series in Game 3, before using the best shooting performance in EuroLeague Playoffs history to clinch the series.
Fenerbahce used its three-point shooting to open a 10-27 first-quarter lead before Zalgiris fought back and closed within 48-52 early in the second half. But Ali Muhammed was perfect from behind the arc to restore a double-digit lead and the visitors never looked back. Muhammed was stellar with 25 points on 9-of-10 field goal shooting, along with 4 assists and 3 steals. Fellow point guard Kostas Sloukas also excelled with 15 points, 10 assists and 4 steals. Jan Vesely scored 12 and Marko Guduric and Erick Green both netted 11 points. Brandon Davies led Zalgiris with 25 points plus 7 rebounds and Nate Wolters had 18 points.
No team has ever shot the ball better from behind the arc in a playoff game than Fenerbahce on that night in Kaunas. Fenerbahce made a club playoff record 15 three-pointers on 22 attempts, good for 68.2%, a EuroLeague Playoff record. Fenerbahce opened the game by knocking down all 6 of its three-point shots in the first quarter and also made 4 of 5 from long range in the third quarter. Seven different Fenerbahce players attempted a three-point shot in this game and six made at least 1 with Ali Muhammed shooting 5-for-5 to lead the way. Luigi Datome was 3-for-3 and Marko Guduric 3-for-5 from long range. Kostas Sloukas, Melih Mahmutoglu and Erick Green also knocked down triples.
Shooting records set
In addition to its excellent three-point accuracy, Fenerbahce had a fantastic shooting night overall, making 22 of 31 two-point attempts (71%) and 10 of 11 free throws (90.9%). Fenerbahce set a new playoff record in field goals percentage with 69.81%, shattering the previous record of 64.91%. Fenerbahce's true shooting percentage in the game (71.22%) was another playoff record, making it the first team this century to finish above 70% in a playoff game. Both marks - field-goal and true shooting – rank seventh in the EuroLeague this century in their respective categories.
More club playoff marks
Fenerbahce set a couple more marks in this win. The team dished a club playoff-high 24 assists behind 10 from Kostas Sloukas and 6 from Jan Vesely, one shy of his career-high. Fenerbahce also set a club playoff record for a road game by scoring 99 points, which is also the third-most points Fenerbahce has scored in a EuroLeague game not played on Turkish soil.
What happened next
Fenerbahce reached the 2019 Final Four in Vitoria-Gasteiz as the team with the most wins in a single season in the history of the EuroLeague, but it failed to survive the first hurdle. Fenerbahce lost 73-92 in the semifinal against a crosstown rival Anadolu Efes Istanbul and was also crushed in the third-place game by Real Madrid, 75-94.