Bjelica leads Fenerbahce Ulker over Unicaja
Fenerbahce Ulker used a 13-1 fourth quarter run to beat Unicaja Malaga 69-67 Thursday at Ulker Sports Arena and join its rival in a tie for third place in Top 16 Group E with 5-5 records. Fener led much of the way, but Unicaja took over late in the third quarter and led by as many as 8 after a Ryan Toolson triple early in the fourth. However Nemanja Bjelica and Luka Zoric stepped up when needed most and Bo McCalebb free throws and a Linas Kleiza slam in the final half minute sealed the outcome. Bjelica finished with 13 points and 9 rebounds for the winners. McCalebb also scored 13, while Zoric and Kleiza netted 11 apiece. Mindaugas Kusminskas paced Unicaja with 13 points, Fran Vazquez scored 10 and Jayson Granger dished 9 assists in defeat. Despite the loss, Unicaja preserved its tiebreak advantage over Unicaja due to an 89-75 win in Spain in January.
First quarter: Bogdanovic’s 9 points propel Fenerbahce
Each team committed a pair of turnovers before Earl Calloway connected from downtown for the game’s first points. Bojan Bogdanovic dunked twice on the break to put the hosts ahead. Bjelica sank a three from the corner. Fran Vazquez leapt into action with a tip-in and a jumper to tie the score at 7-7 midway through the quarter. Blagota Sekulic and Domas Sabonis kept the game knotted. Bogdanovic took charge with a three and a floater to put the hosts up 14-9. Vladimir Stimac scored off his own miss to finish a low-scoring quarter at 14-11.
Second quarter: Kleiza helps hosts hold on to slim lead
McCalebb took the ball to the rim and dunked it on the first play of the quarter. Granger’s steal led to a Carlos Suarez layup. McCalebb stayed hot with a basket-plus-foul. A Ryan Toolson jumper and Stimac basket inside narrowed the gap to 2. Emir Preldzic came up with a nifty assist to Zoric for a slam. Unicaja came back through Vazquez, whose steal ignited a break for a Toolson layup before he assisted on a Suarez slam that tied the game at 21-21. Bjelica put the hosts back in front and Kleiza soon scored his first basket. Calloway knocked down a deep three to trim the gap to 1, however Bjelica responded with a three. A Zoran Dragic jumper was matched by Kleiza free throws. Baskets by Granger and Sabonis sandwiched a Kleiza three as the half drew to a close at 33-30.
Third quarter: 10 points from Kuzminskas put Unicaja ahead
Stimac and Zoric exchanged the first two baskets of the half. Unicaja tied the game at 35-35 on a Kuzminskas three-pointer before the same player gave the visitors the lead with a tip-in. Kuzminskas fouled Preldzic at the other end as Fenerbahce tied the game. Preldzic’s three-quarters court pass to Kleiza for a layup put the hosts up before Granger fed a cutting Suarez for a slam that made it 39-39 midway through the quarter. McCalebb and Kuzminskas paced their respective teams over the following possessions. A Calloway-to-Kuzminskas alley-oop slam made it 43-44. Toolson set up Sabonis, who stretched the lead to 3. Calloway added a three – his third of the game – with a minute to go in the quarter. Omer Onan kept the hosts within 46-49.
Fourth quarter: Zoric, Bjelica fuel game-winning 13-1 run
Dragic fed Vazquez for a slam and the big man soon added a jumper to put Unicaja up 7. After Pierre Jackson split free throws, a Toolson triple silenced the crowd. Zoric scored and was fouled. After he missed the resulting free throw, he drew another foul from Sabonis. Onan trimmed the deficit to 52-56 with a tough basket. Stimac scored inside, but when Bejlica knocked down a three to make it a 3-point game, the arena started to rock. Then Bjelica dished to Zoric for a slam to make it 57-58 with four minutes to go. Onan got to the line, tied it and then put Fener ahead for the first time in the fourth quarter. Toolson split free throws to tie it before Zoric went to the charity stripe and sank 2. Bjelica scored inside and McCalebb attacked the basket to cap a 13-1 run. Kuzminskas gave Unicaja hope at 65-61 with a minute and a half to go. Bjelica denied Unicaja by tipping the ball off the rim. A Suarez triple made it a 1-point game with 21 seconds left, but Granger was called for an unsportsmanlike foul for holding McCalebb on the inbounds pass. McCalebb sank the 2 free throws and a Kleiza slam with 12 seconds remaining iced the victory.
Thursday, March 13, 2014