Fenerbahce battles hard for sixth consecutive road win
Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul extended its road winning streak to six games with a hard-fought 60-68 win over winless Unicaja Malaga on Friday night. Fenerbahce improved to 3-2 record in Group F, while Unicaja dropped to 0-5, registering its tenth consecutive loss in the competition. Andrew Goudelock scored 10 of his 20 points in the key third quarter, which the visitors finished on a 1-10 run to build the biggest lead of the night, 40-49. Unicaja rallied within a single point behind Jayson Granger and Carlos Suarez, but Jan Vesely and Nemanja Bjelica dominated the paint and scored clutch baskets, helping Fenerbahce hold on. Vesely collected 17 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks and 3 steals, while Bjelica amassed 14 points plus 13 rebounds in victory. Jon Stefansson paced Unicaja with 13 points, Fran Vazquez had 12 points, Suarez scored 9, while most of Granger's contribution – 6 points, 4 steals and 4 assists – came in the final quarter.
First quarter: Hosts take slim lead as offenses struggle
Stefan Markovic fed Vazquez for an alley-oop dunk that proved to be the only basket by either team in the opening 3 minutes of the game. Fenerbahce was held scoreless for almost 4 minutes before Goudelock banked in a floater and followed it with a drive to the hoop for his team's first lead, 2-4. Stefansson scored a tough layup and made a pair of free throws, but baskets continued to come few and far between for couple more minutes. Vladimir Golubovic put Unicaja ahead 8-4 from the foul line before Emir Preldzic scored from close range to end the visitors' drought. Stefansson buried a triple, and after Preldzic scored an easy layup, Carlos Suarez knocked down his own shot from downtown for a 14-8 Unicaja edge. Scoring definitely picked up when Goudelock sank a three for Fener, then Stefansson and Bjelica traded triples. In the final minute Caleb Green made a put-back and Nikos Zisis drove for a layup as Unicaja led 19-16 after one quarter.
Second quarter: Unicaja by a basket at halftime
Vesely entered the game at the start of the second quarter and needed just 13 seconds to score a baseline layup in traffic. Fenerbahce regained the lead, 19-20, with a layup from Luka Zoric on the ensuing possession, before Green and Vesely traded easy fastbreak baskets. Both defenses toughened up again, and in a span of 3 minutes allowed only a single basket fell, an alley-oop dunk by Vazquez for a new Unicaja lead, 23-22. After Goudelock and Mindaugas Kuzminskas traded baskets from close range, Kuzminskas followed his with a dunk-plus-free throw at 28-24. Vesely finished a fast break with his own dunk and, after Kuzminskas scored inside, ran the floor for another layup that cut the deficit to 30-28 at halftime.
Third quarter: Goudelock scores 10, puts Fenerbahce in front
Bjelica opened the third quarter with a game-tying layup before Bogdan Bogdanovic, after a couple offensive rebounds by Fenerbahce, took the lead from long range, 30-33. Markovic scored a tough layup for Unicaja, but Goudelock answered with a floater and added a pair of free throws. Bjelica capped Fenerbahce's 2-11 run with an uncontested dunk at 32-39. After a timeout, Stefansson hit his third three-pointer for the hosts, Suarez finished a fastbreak with a layup and Golubovic tied the game at 39-39 with a layup of his own. But Goudelock hit a tough triple and Vesely made a steal then scored on a fastbreak to spark another run from Fenerbahce. Zoric pump-faked and drove to score a contested layup, then Goudelock nailed another three-pointer for a 1-10 run that gave the visitors 40-49 advantage after three quarters.
Fourth quarter: Fenerbahce holds on
Vazquez made free throws to start the final quarter and then beat the shot-clock with a baseline floater to get Unicaja within 44-49. Fenerbahce needed almost 3 minutes to resume scoring when Bjelica sank a jumper, but Granger answered right back for Unicaja. The teams caught a little bit of offensive rhythm as Vesely and Granger traded layups, before Vesely used assist from Bjelica for a monster two-handed slam at 48-55. Suarez scored a pair of layups for the hosts, also forcing Vesely to commit its fourth personal foul with 5 minutes to go, then a tip-in from Vazquez cut it the difference to 54-55. Unicaja played a 2-3 zone, but Vesely found his way through it for a layup-plus-free throw to give the visitors some breathing room. Vazquez used a miss-match with Goudelock for a short two-pointer, but Bjelica answered with a long baseline jumper. The visitors made couple defensive stands, which led to an easy fastbreak dunk for Bjelica, before a technical foul against Vazquez led to a Goudelock free throw and 56-63 lead. Unicaja used aggressive full-court pressure and traps to force 3 consecutive steals, leading to Toolson free throws and a Granger layup at 60-63. But the hosts did not score again, while Bjelica split free throws and Bogdanovic made 4 of 4 to ice the game.
Friday, January 30, 2015