Fenerbahce holds on, eliminates Olympiacos
Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul led from start to finish for an important win in a heated playoff race, holding off host Olympiacos Piraeus 71-76 on Friday at Peace and Friendship Stadium. Fenerbahce improved to 19-12 on the season, sharing a fourth-best record with three games to go. The loss dropped Olympiacos to 14-17 and eliminated it from the playoffs race. Fenerbahce scored the first 8 points of the game, needed under 5 minutes to build a double-digit lead, and went on to lead by as many as 18 in the second quarter. Olympiacos tried to rally in the second half, but never got closer than 6 until the final seconds of the game. Jan Vesely paced Fenerbahce with 18 points and Dyshawn Pierre scored 15. Livio Jean-Charles led Olympiacos with 16 points and 8 rebounds. Sasha Vezenkov had 15 points and Kostas Sloukas finished with 12 in the losing effort against his former team.
Ahmet Duverioglu scored twice and also had 2 offensive rebounds in Fenerbahce’s game-opening 0-8 run. Close-range baskets from him and Pierre extended the lead to 2-14 before Vezenkov stopped the early bleeding with a three-pointer. Fenerbahce kept punishing the hosts inside, through Marko Guduric and Kyle O'Quinn, but Georgios Printezis and Vassilis Spanoulis got the Reds to within 11-20 at the end of the first quarter. A pair of baskets from Fenerbahce’s Danilo Barthel opened the second quarter at 11-24. Sloukas had a triple-plus-free throw, but O'Quinn inside and Kenan Sipahi from the outside increased the visitors’ margin to 17-31. Giannoulis Larentzakis knocked down consecutive threes for the hosts, but the margin remained in double figures. Barthel and Jean-Charles traded put-back layups, but Vesely scored twice, including an alley-oop dunk, to open an 18-point lead, before Fenerbahce took 27-43 into halftime.
A put-back dunk from Jean-Charles and a three-pointer from Vezenkov got the Reds going in the opening minute of the third quarter. Another put-back dunk from Jean-Charles forced a Fenerbahce timeout, but Vezenkov hit another triple to cut it to 39-45 after just 3:30 played in the quarter. But Fenerbahce defense stopped the bleeding, not allowing another basket for almost 4 minutes, a span during which Pierre strung together 6 points to restore a double-digit margin. Sloukas ended a drought with a triple before Printezis scored inside and from the outside. But Pierre knocked down a triple on the other end to help Fenerbahce take 49-58 into the fourth quarter. O'Quinn opened the fourth with a corner triple, and Lorenzo Brown followed with a steal and dunk before a long-range shot from Nando De Colo made it 51-66 with 7:30 to go. Spanoulis tried to spark the Reds, but their offense could not manage much. Vesely had a steal that led to his two-handed reverse dunk to open a 53-70 advantage with 4 minutes left. Jean-Charles and Vezenkov each scored twice from close range, with Larentzakis netting a triple to get Olympiacos within 64-72 with 1:08 to go. A triple from Sloukas and another close-range basket from Jean-Charles made it 71-74 with 11 seconds on the clock, but Fenerbahce held on.
For the fifth time this season and the second time against Olympiacos, Fenerbahce made two-point shots with better than 64% accuracy. After making 64.3% back in December in beating the Reds, Fenerbahce bettered that with 26-for-38 shooting for 68.4% in this game.
Dyshawn Pierre finished the game with 15 points, which is the seventh time he scored at least that many points this season, his first in the EuroLeague. In this win, however, he played a season-high 34:09 minutes and shared a team lead with 4 assists.
Nando De Colo came into the game ranked seventh in scoring with 15.4 points per game. He scored 7 points in this contest, less than half of his season average, but did just about everything else with 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals.
With this loss, Olympiacos has been eliminated from the playoff race. With three game to go and a minimum of 18 victories needed to advance, the Reds can no longer hope for their first playoffs appearance since 2017-18.
Fenerbahce will be in action again on Tuesday, in the first game of the double-round week, when it visits FC Bayern Munich (19-12) for a Round 32 game with serious playoff implications. Olympiacos will visit Valencia Basket (17-14) a day later.
Friday, March 26, 2021