Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul head coach Sasa Djordjevic could not explain how his team lost in the manner it did in Round 3 against ALBA Berlin. But he was happy about the team’s response against UNICS Kazan.
Fenerbahce entirely shut down UNICS’s offense in running away with an 80-41 victory at home for a 2-2 record and snapping a two-game losing streak.
“This was a great reaction to how we lost in Berlin,” the coach said of the club’s second-biggest winning margin in history behind only a 43-point victory over London Towers in Round 1 on the 2001-02 season. “We were so focused, so disciplined defensively.”
Devin Booker, who was one of four Fenerbahce players to score in double figures with 16 points, had a slight smile on his face during his post-game interview upon looking at the lopsided boxscore.
“We were just a bunch of motivated kids who got after it tonight. We wanted to win, we needed to win,” he said.
Booker also talked about an emotional gathering ahead of the contest: “We all came together before the game and decided this is the time to make a difference. Hopefully, it’s the start of something good for us… This is hopefully a turning point for us.”
Marial Shayok, the revelation of the game as he scored 17 points, said the main thing was the team stuck together for the full 40 minutes after a poor second half against Berlin.
“When we’re on the same page, we are hard to beat,” said Shayok, who had scored just 6 points combined in his first three games in the EuroLeague.
Fenerbahce came into the season with high hopes of getting back to the Final Four for the first time since 2019 with a lot of firepower and a successful coach on the sidelines. It’s clear that a strong defense will be needed for that. And Booker and co. showed that against UNICS.
Fenerbahce’s tough defense forced UNICS into some club records in futility. The 41 points scored was much lower than the previous worst of 50 points from December 8, 2011, against FC Barcelona. In fact, it was tied for the fifth-fewest points scored by any team in competition history.
The team’s collective index ranking of 16 easily surpassed the 39 PIR from a January 26, 2017, loss against Maccabi Tel Aviv and was the seventh-lowest on record in the EuroLeague.
And UNICS’s 28.9 percent shooting on two-pointers as well as 24.9% true shooting percentage were also club lows - worse than the 31.1% and 29.6%, respectively, from the aforementioned Maccabi game.
UNICS had a game to forget, but Djordjevic emphasized that his team should also forget this win as quickly as possible and focus on the next game at hand.
But the team can at least have the hope that it has turned an early corner on the long road this season.