Fenerbahce sets club assist record with Baskonia rout
Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul had its best offensive performance of the season as it extended its winning streak to four games by beating visiting TD Systems Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz 96-76 on Tuesday night. Both teams now hold 9-10 records, but Fenerbahce claimed the potential head-to-head tiebreaker with this 20-point win. Fenerbahce took the lead for good early and had its first double-digit margin after 10 minutes. Jan Vesely and Nando De Colo paced the hosts, but Baskonia fought to keep in touch in the first half. But Fenerbahce had a strong finish to the second quarter and a good defensive start of the third, increasing the margin to 60-44 and never looking back as it went on to set a club record with 29 assists. De Colo netted a season-high 27 points, Vesely had 17 and Lorenzo Brown scored 14 points in the victory. Alec Peters paced Baskonia with 15 points, while Zoran Dragic and Achille Polonara had 12 points apiece in a losing effort.
Tadas Sedekerskis and Polonara hit corner threes in the early going for Baskonia, but the hosts took control behind Vesely who dominated inside. Vesely had three dunks in Fenerbahce's first 10 points before three-pointers from Edgaras Ulanovas and Brown made it 20-11. Luca Vildoza knocked down a corner three for the visitors, but Vesely's three-point play and Jarell Eddie's late triple made it 28-18 after 10 minutes. A triple from Dyshawn Pierre extended the margin to 11 points, but Baskonia was not just going to go away. Peters hit a second-chance triple to cut it to 31-26, before Dragic scored 6 points, including a tip-in that helped cut the margin to 38-37. However, De Colo answered with a triple-plus-foul and Marko Guduric followed it with a transition three-pointer to make it 45-37. Henry and Polonara halved the deficit, but Guduric and Brown sank back-to-back threes in the final minute of the half, making it 51-41 at halftime.
Polonara hit another triple, but that was the only Baskonia basket in the opening 5 minutes of the third quarter. On the other end, Ulanovas hit a long jumper before De Colo had a triple and a driving layup to open a 60-44 lead midway through the third. Eddie and Rokas Giedraitis traded triples, but Brown also connected from downtown before Pierre sank a three-point play that helped break the 20-point margin, 71-51. The hosts took a commanding 75-56 lead into the fourth quarter before Dragic gave Baskonia slim hope with a runner and a fastbreak layup. But De Colo nailed a long corner two and a transition three for an 82-60 advantage. Giedraitis knocked down a three-pointer, but De Colo and Duverioglu kept restoring the 20-point margin. Peters scored a triple and a layup before Arturs Kurucs had a three-point play that made it 88-73 in the penultimate minute. However, with an 18-point tiebreak margin in play, Fenerbahce answered with a quick 8-0 run with back-to-back triples from Guduric and Brown to make it a 23-point lead, the largest of the night, thus securing an important win.
Despite a big margin, there was plenty to play for until the very end. The visitors tried to get the deficit below 18 points, which was the margin of Baskonia's victory in Round 9 - and did get within 88-73, but an 8-0 run secured Fenerbahce the potential tiebreak advantage, too.
Two former EuroLeague MVPs played key roles for Fenerbahce on this night. Jan Vesely set the tone with a great start. He had 11 points in the first quarter and finished the game with 17 points as well as 4 assists. The one who shined in the last three quarters was Nando De Colo, who scored a season-high 27 points, making 7 of 9 two-point shots and 4 of 7 triples.
Fenerbahce set a new club record with 29 assists, edging the previous mark of 28 set more than 10 years ago in a win over Cholet Basket. Seven different players had multiple assists in this game, led by a pair of swingmen; Marko Guduric had 6 assists and Dyshawn Pierre dished 5.
Fenerbahce entered the game averaging a league-low 73.4 points per game. The team had not scored more than 86 points this season, nor hit more than 13 three-pointers in a game. But Coach Igor Kokoskov's men showed what kind of offense they are capable of playing, putting up 96 points and making 15 triples at 53.6%, another season-high, in this victory.
Baskonia will be again in action already on Thursday in Round 20 when it pays a visit to Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv, while Fenerbahce plays on Friday when it hosts Panathinaikos OPAP Athens.
Tuesday, January 12, 2021