Fenerbahce Ulker vaulted into the playoffs by handing Tau Ceramica its first Top 16 loss, 75-59
Fenerbahce Ulker is in the Quarterfinal Playoffs! The Turkish champs led from start to finish, defeating Tau Ceramica 75-59 on Wednesday at the Abdi Ipekci Arena in Istanbul to clinch second place in Group E and a quarterfinal date with Group D winner Montepaschi Siena. Fener finished the Top 16 with a 3-3 record and handed Tau its only loss of this stage, ending that team’s six-game winning streak. Tau, which already wrapped up the top spot in the group last week, will meet Partizan Igokea in the playoffs. Willie Solomon matched his season-high with 28 points, going 5 for 6 from downtown, to pace the inners. Fener scored the first 8 points of the game and continued to increase the lead throughout the first period, reaching 40-17 early in the second period. Tau answered with a 0-10 run and with Tiago Splitter scoring well in the paint, the visitors cut the gap to 43-30 by halftime. In the third, Tau would get within 8, but Solomon seemed to be everywhere when it mattered and kept Fener comfortably ahead en route to a historic win. Solomon added 4 steals and 4 assists for the hosts, James White scored 11 and Emir Preldzic and Rasim Basak posted 9 each. Splitter paced Tau with 21 points on 9-of –11 shooting and 7 rebounds. Teletovic added 9 points and Gabe Muoneke 7.
It was a perfect start for Fenerbahce Ulker as the home team came out of the gate with three pointers from Solomon, Preldzic and Basak. After just 33 seconds, Fener led 5-0. Tau Ceramica stayed strong inside with Splitter and Pete Mickeal scoring, but Preldzic's triple from the left side and its tough defense plus the support of its fans helped the home side extend the lead minute by minute. Soon Solomon hit another triple to increase the lead to 13-4. A Mickeal jumper in the paint made it 15-10, but then Fenerbahce used a 10-2 charge to make it 25-12 on a triple from Basak. Solomon soon stretched the lead to 14 with a three-pointer before Teletovic answered the same way. White had the last word in the first quarter with a skillful layup that made it 30-17 after 10 minutes.
Fenerbahce was still hot as the second period began. The hosts scored 10 unanswered points with Semih Erden, Solomon, Basak and White all contributing to increase the lead to an amazing 23 points – 40-17 – just four minutes into the period. Tau overcame the shock with superb zone defense and responded with a 0-10 run of its own. James Singleton held his team with a nice dunk to start the charge, Sergi Vidal added a layup and then Splitter tallied his 14th points with two straight layups as Tau reduced the gap to 40-27. Basak break the silence for Fener with his third triple of the game, but Vidal ended the first half by replying with a three-pointer to determine the halftime score of 43-30.
Splitter made another layup early in the third quarter to cut the difference to 11 points, but Fener remained hot and extended the lead to 48-32 with another triple from Solomon. The grew to 53-36 as Solomon continued to pepper the nets. Tau went back to zone pressure and strengthened its defense. Splitter’s 21st point brought Tau to its closest sine the first period, 55-47. White’s free throws made it a 10-point lead and then Solomon extended the lead to 12 points from the line. However Pablo Prigioni silenced the Fener fans with a buzzer-beating triple from his own end of the floor to end the third period 59-50.
An Omer Asık dunk put Fener ahead by double digits once more and the home team controlled the game with its strong defense, plus points from Solomon and White. Just three-and-a-half minutes into the period, a White jumper made it 67-50 and essentially secured the outcome. Muoneke's individual efforts inside made it 71-57 midway through the period, but Asik kept the hosts in control and increased the lead to 18 points as the hosts celebrated a playoff berth.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008