Vesely rallies Fenerbahce Ulker past champs for its first playoff win
Fenerbahce Ulker trailed for the first 29 minutes before taking control for good to beat reigning Turkish Airlines Euroleague champion Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv 80-72 at Ulker Sports Arena for the club’s first-ever Euroleague playoff victory. The Turkish champs will look to keep up the momentum when they host Game of the best-of-five playoffs series on Thursday. The game featured a 20-point swing in 11 minutes between the third and fourth quarters; Alex Tyus put Maccabi up 46-56 with four minutes to go in the third quarter. Luka Zoric scored 6 straight points to trigger an 11-0 run and Andrew Goudelock gave Fenerbahce its first lead, 59-58, late in the quarter. Kenan Sipahi opened the fourth quarter with a three as Fener started to pull away. Jeremy Pargo had Maccabi within 5 with five minutes remaining, but Jan Vesely scored 8 points on the final four minutes – 6 of which came on put-back layups or dunks – to pave the hosts’ way to the win. Vesely finished with a career-high 23 points, while Nemanja Bjelica added 13 points and 12 rebounds and Zoric scored 10 for the winners. Pargo scored 19 first-quarter points and finished with 25, which was 1 short of Maccabi’s record in the playoffs, which he shares with two other players. Yogev Ohayon added 12 points, Alex Tyus tallied 11 points and 11 rebounds and Devin Smith scored 10 in defeat.
First quarter: Pargo orchestrates Maccabi charge
After nearly two scoreless minutes, Maccabi struck first as Brian Randle went coast to coast with a steal for slam dunk. Pargo joined him with a transition layup and Sofoklis Schortsanitis scored in close, too, for a sudden 0-6 advantage that prompted Zeljko Obradovic to call a timeout. Fenerbahce missed its sixth straight shot before getting another scare, as Nikos Zisis crumpled to the floor, but got up and continued playing. Ohayon drove for a reverse layup at 0-8 when finally Zisis did the same to get Fenerbahce on the scoreboard after almost four minutes. Maccabi responded with a three-pointer, the game's first, by Smith, meaning that all five of the visiting starters had now scored. The hosts got their first triple from a wide-open Bjelica at 5-11. Zisis scored on a goal-tended reverse, before Smith lobbed to Pargo for a layup. Vesely turned a layup into a three-point play at the foul line. Ohayon responded with a triple, and when Bogdan Bogdanovic hit free throws, Pargo answered with a stop-and-pop jumper to preserve the lead at 12-18. Bjelica tipped in a miss, but within seconds, Randle was scoring alone at the other end. And when Vesely rammed down an alley-oop dunk, Pargo matched it with a lane jumper that took Maccabi to a 16-22 first-quarter finish.
Second quarter: Pargo keeps Maccabi a step ahead
The tit-for-tat in Maccabi's favor continued into the second quarter. Vesely's dunk on a nice feed from Bjelica was met with a triple from Ohayon, found open by Pargo. Then Bjelica scored in close, but Pargo did the same to make it 20-27. Bjelica scored on another goal-tended shot for Fenerbahce before Smith scored on a finger roll. Melih Mahmutoglu entered for Fenerbahce and buried a triple, energizing the crowd. But sure enough, Pargo hit the same shot. Finally, Fenerbahce's efforts drew the hosts closer when Zisis popped a jumper and Bjelica's steal sent Vesely ahead for yet another dunk at 29-32. After a Maccabi timeout, Tyus put back a miss. Zoric copied him at the other end to make it 31-34. An unstoppable Pargo now finished an alley-oop with a double-pump one-hander. He was back seconds later at the free throw line, making both for a 31-38 Maccabi advantage. Goudelock, on a fastbreak, got Fenerbahce's third goal-tended basket, and Pargo just took those 2 points back with more free throws. Bjelica beat the shot-clock from way downtown, only to see Pargo lob to Tyus for a one-handed dunk. Appropriately, the half finished with a highlight on a pick-and-roll dunk from Bogdanovic to Vesely to get Fenerbahce within 38-42 and end the half on a high note.
Third quarter: Zoric leads Fenerbahce rally
Bjelica's free throw opened the second-half scoring before Ohayon drilled a corner triple. When Tyus hit 1 of 2 free throws, Maccabi's lead was back to 7 points. Vesely banked a shot inside before Pargo fed Randle for a slam. Bjelica and Vesely did the same at the other end at 43-48. Randle got to the line and made both before Pargo drove for a layup to match. When Tyus made a third-chance layup, Maccabi had the game's biggest lead, 42-53, and Fenerbahce needed a timeout. Bogdanovic calmed the hosts by hitting an open triple, his first field goal. Pargo's reverse attempt was corrected by Tyus with a tip-in dunk that Emir Preldzic answered with a triple at 49-56. Zoric narrowed the difference further with free throws, but Tyus equaled that with another tip-in. Preldzic fed Zoric for a dunk, and then Zoric tipped in a miss to make it 55-58. Zoric was perfect again at the free throw line, giving him 8 consecutive points, and cutting the difference to a single point. When Predlzic stole and fed Goudelock for a one-hander, Fenerbahce had its first lead of the night, capping a 13-2 run to put the hosts in front 59-58 after 30 minutes.
Fourth quarter: Vesely rules the finish
Fenerbahce's run continued on the first shot of the quarter, a three-pointer from Sipahi to make it 62-58. A long minute passed before MarQuez Haynes blasted his own triple for Maccabi, but Sipahi cut backdoor for a layup at 64-61. Fenerbahce's defense held strong until Goudelock could up the difference with a reverse layup. After a Maccabi timeout, Pargo hit a bank shot. Oguz Savas added 2 free throws to make it 68-63 with less than five minutes left. Vesely came off the bench to make a put-back as Maccabi struggled to get a clean shot off, then Goudelock waltzed in for a bank shot to make it 72-63 and force a Maccabi timeout. A lone free throw by Ohayon was met with Preldzic's second-chance jumper at 74-64. Pargo hit a couple free throws, but Vesely went to the glass and saw his shot goaltended, too. Smith answered with a triple, but Vesely was a monster again as he blasted down a follow-up dunk. Smith answered with a layup and Randle got a free throw, but in the final minute, Fenerbahce found Vesely again for a layup plus foul that put the finishing touch on a great comeback and Game 1 victory for the hosts.
Tuesday, April 14, 2015