Fenerbahce downs CSKA in a comeback thriller
In a battle of Turkish Airlines EuroLeague powerhouses with playoffs-like intensity, Fenerbahce BEKO Istanbul registered its ninth consecutive victory by edging CSKA Moscow 79-75 at home on Tuesday. Coming back from 15 points down in the first half, Fenerbahce retained its first-place standing by lifting its record to 12-1, while CSKA dropped to 10-3. Jan Vesely led the winners with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Marko Guduric added 15 while Nikola Kalinic and Luigi Datome each had 10 for Fenerbahce. Will Clyburn led CSKA with 17 points. Cory Higgins added 12, Sergio Rodriguez and Othello Hunter each had 11, while Daniel Hackett got 10 for the guests.
Back-to-back three-pointers by Hackett and Nando De Colo gave CSKA an early 0-6 lead. Kostas Sloukas and Vesely stepped up for Fenerbahce but an outstanding Hackett boosted the guests' margin to 6-13. Alec Peters and Hunter each hit a jumper to make it a double-digit game, 6-17. Vesely followed free throws with a three-point play but Peters and Hunter kept CSKA way ahead, 18-26, after 10 minutes. Guduric and Melli tried to change things for Fenerbahce early in the second quarter but Clyburn and Higgins combined for 7 quick points for a 22-33 CSKA lead. The guests kept dominating the game with their efficient offense, as layups by Hines and Clyburn made it 27-41. Kalinic scored down low and Vesely dunked to give the hosts hope at 31-42. Clyburn scored twice in the paint and Hackett added a jumper to make Fenerbahce stop the game with a timeout at 33-48. Guduric beat the halftime buzzer with a corner triple, fixing the halftime score at 36-48. Luigi Datome buried back-to-back jumpers after the break and a dunk by Vesely ignited the crowd at 42-48. Melli followed a reverse layup with a three-point play and a three-pointer by Guduric completed the hosts' comeback, 50-48. Vesely scored down low to cap a 19-0 Fenerbahce run that bridged both halves. Rodriguez rescued CSKA with consecutive layups and a three-pointer to restore a 54-55 edge. Guduric answered from downtown, Ali Muhammed added a floater but Higgins and Clyburn each struck from downtown for a 60-62 CSKA advantage after 30 minutes. Hunter and Clyburn stepped up to make it 60-67 early in the fourth quarter. Muhammed sank a step-back triple, Rodriguez and Kalinic exchanged baskets, and a catch-and-shoot three-pointer by Higgins gave CSKA a 65-72 lead. A big basket by Datome and free throws by Sloukas brought Fenerbahce within 73-74 with 2:35 left. Higgins split foul shots and a jumper by Datome tied it at 75-75. Hunter missed down low and a layup by Vesely put Fenerbahce in charge, 77-75, with 59 seconds to go. Peters picked up a critical turnover and CSKA fouled on Sloukas with 10.7 seconds left. He hit both attempts, allowing Fenerbahce to start celebrating.
Guduric was the x-factor for Fenerbahce, stepping up in one of the most difficult games of the season. He finished the game with 15 points on 3-of-3 triples, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steal and a block for a PIR of 18. A true all-around performance!
Fenerbahce trailed 33-48 near halftime but kept CSKA scoreless for more than 7 minutes. Meanwhile, Guduric, Vesely and an unstoppable Datome fueled a mamooth 19-0 run that not only brought Fenerbahce back into the game, but gave the hosts a 52-48 lead. Fenerbahce wouldn't have won the game without those 7 minutes of total basketball.
CSKA finished the game with just 1 offensive rebound. That tied the worst total in the EuroLeague in club history. It previously had 1 offensive rebound against Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar on January 3, 2014 and against Montepaschi Siena on October 31, 2007.
Did you notice?
CSKA hit 14-of-18 two-point shots (77.8%) before halftime and just 6-of-16 (37.5%) in the second half. That lower percentage, added to the lack of offensive rebounds, allowed Fenerbahce to return to the game and eventually win it.
Both teams return to action on Thursday, December 20. CSKA hosts Anadolu Efes Istanbul and Fenerbahce visits Buducnost VOLI Podgorica.
Tuesday, December 18, 2018