Fenerbahce fights off Zalgiris in Game 3
Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul went back ahead in its series against Zalgiris Kaunas with a 57-66 victory over the Lithuanian champions in Game 3 at Zalgirio Arena. Fenerbahce now leads the best-of-five series 2-1 and can finish things off and clinch a Final Four berth on Thursday with a win. Zalgiris led by as many as 9 points in the first half, but Fenerbahce came out for the second half in a defensive mindset and allowed only 23 points over the final 20 minutes. Marko Guduric stepped up for Fenerbahce with 17 points and Jan Vesely added 10, while Luigi Datome contributed 8 points, 7 rebounds and a career-high 4 steals. Nate Wolters paced Zalgiris with 15 points.
Fenerbahce powered the offensive glass for 5 offensive rebounds in the game's first 4 minutes, but Aaron White and Thomas Walkup teamed up on a 9-0 run that gave the hosts an 11-5 lead 6 minutes into the game. Fenerbahce faced further trouble when Vesely took a seat with 2 fouls. The visitors drew within 2 thanks to Nikola Kalinic and Kostas Sloukas, but Walkup went coast-to-coast to beat the first quarter buzzer with a layup that made it 19-15 after 10 minutes. A Leo Westermann triple early in the second quarter put Zalgiris up by 7 and Edgaras Ulanovas boosted it to 26-17. Brandon Davies was called for an unsportsmanlike foul on Vesely – his third – and came out with 5 minutes left in the half. Vesely dunked for his first basket of the game, which narrowed the gap to 32-26 with 2 minutes remaining in the second quarter. Sloukas ended the half with a pull-up three-pointer to bring Fenerbahce within 34-31 at halftime.
Vesely kept the visitors' momentum going with a steal and slam to start the second half. Back-to-back threes by Guduric gave Fenerbahce its first lead since the opening minutes, 37-39. Davies got going inside for Zalgiris to even the score at 41-41, however, Datome drilled a third-chance three-pointer and Guduric added free throws as Fenerbahce claimed its biggest lead, 41-47. Davies free throws got Zalgiris back to 46-49 through three quarters. White turned an offensive rebound into Sloukas's fourth foul and 2 free throws to bring Zalgiris within 1 point. Guduric struck from deep again to keep Fenerbahce ahead. Wolters's third triple of the game made it 53-54 with 3 and a half minutes to go. Melli responded with a three and Vesely dunked to give Fenerbahce a 54-59 cushion. A Melih Mahmutoglou triple with 42 seconds to go all but put the game on ice as Fenerbahce held on for the victory.
Veteran guard Sinan Guler did not play in the first half, but he came in early in the third quarter and played a key role in Fenerbahce's strong defense the rest of the way. Guler was active against the Zalgiris guards and in the passing lanes, while using his fouls as a weapon, too. He tallied 2 points, which came off one of his 2 steals, and also recorded 1 rebound and 1 steal. More important than his individual numbers, Fenerbahce outscored Zalgiris by 4 in the 6:39 he played.
Fenerbahce made the most of its offensive rebounds and steals in this game. The visitors had 16 of the former and 12 of the latter. Zalgiris, in contrast, had 13 offensive boards, but only 3 steals. Fenerbahce capitalized by scoring 15 points off turnovers, compared to 8 for the hosts. The Turkish champs scored 16 second-chance points and Zalgiris had only 12.
Did you notice?
Jan Vesely became the 14th player in EuroLeague history to corral 1,000 career rebounds with a tip-in late in the second quarter. The Czech Jet finished the game with 1,001. he needs 36 more to catch Nikola Vujcic for 13th place all-time.
The two teams meet again on Thursday at the same place. A Fenerbahce victory will give Coach Zeljko Obradovic's men their fifth straight trip to the Final Four. A Zalgiris win will extend the series to a fifth-and-deciding game in Istanbul next week.
Tuesday, April 23, 2019