Alba Berlin held off Fenerbahce Ulker 72-63
Alba Berlin rejoined the race to reach the Top 16 in Group C by downing Fenerbahce Ulker 72-63 in the state-of-the-art O2 Arena in the German capital on Tuesday night. Both teams now tie for critical fourth place in Group C, each with a 3-4 record, with just 3 games to go in the regular season. Alba is still undefeated at home after 3 Euroleague games at O2 Arena. Ansu Sesay led the winners with 17 points. Immanuel McElroy added 16, most of them in the fourth quarter, while Casey Jacobsen had 13 for Alba. Mirsad Turkcan had 13 points for FB Ulker but nobody else scored in double digits for the guests. Turkcan and Emir Preldzic shined early to give Fenerbahce a 9-19 lead late in the first quarter. McElroy and Jacobsen stepped up for Alba to bring the hosts within 27-30 at halftime. A three-point play by Omer Onan gave FB Ulker its last lead, 47-48. Sesay stayed on fire and got valuable help from an unstoppable McElroy to make Alba seal the outcome minutes before the final buzzer.
Alba went scoreless in the opening 2 minutes, in which a basket by Onan gave FB Ulker a 0-2 edge. Jacobsen finally got Alba going with a three-pointer from the left wing that Sesay followed with a jumper for a 5-2 lead. Gasper Vidmar scored down low while Marques Green added a floating layup to put Fenerbahce back ahead, 5-6. Sesay kept pacing Alba with a corner jumper but Turkcan immediately erased in the other end and struck from downtown for a 7-11 Fener lead. Adam Chubb took over with a wild reveser layup but FB Ulker kept controlling the game rhythm by dominating the boards. Onan buried a six-meter jumper, as Alba could not beat the guests' man-to-man defense now. FB Ulker did not panic and kept trying long possessions. Preldzic came off the bench and immediately struck from downtown while Oguz Savas added a second-chance layup to make it a double-digit game, 9-19. A free throw by Rashad Wright fixed the score at 10-19 after 10 minutes.
Jacobsen nailed a three-pointer - from the same spot as his previous one - early in the second quarter but Devin Smith beat the hosts' zone defense with a driving layup. Preldzic fed Savas for a power layup that restored a double-digit Fener lead, 13-23. Wright tried to change things with a fast break layup but coach Bogdan Tanjevic quickly called timeout to adjust his team's defense. McElroy followed a fast break layup with free throws, as Alba had locked the defensive board and was able to run the floor. Patrick Femerling capped a 8-0 Alba run with a layup to get his team within 21-23. Preldzic silenced most of the crowd with another triple but Femerling and Aleksandar Nadjfeji kept Alba within 24-26. Preldzic scored in penetration that Turkcan followed with a put-back layup in a three-chance FB Ulker offense. McElroy naiiled a triple off an Alba timeout to get the hosts within 27-30 as both teams headed back to the locker rooms.
Both teams struggled to score after the game until Semih Erden took over with a wild turnaround jumper - and the free throw that came with it. More foul shots by Vidmar soon gave FB Ulker a 27-36 margin. Alba had been scoreless for almost 3 minutes until Jacobsen fired in a corner triple that Sesay followed with free throws for a 32-36 deficit. FB Ulker could not find the way to the basket now, while Sesay buried a bomb from downtown. Nadjfeji soon tied the game with a power layup while back-to-back jumpers by Sesay gave Alba its first lead of the game, 41-37, after a 14-1 run. Savas and Nadjfeji traded easy layups while free throws by Turkcan kept Fenerbahce within 43-41. Smith stepped up with a corner three-pointer that Wright erased with an acrobatic layup. Turkcan tied it at 45-45 with a free throw but Jacobsen scored in penetration. Onan took over with a three-point play but Sesay sank another jumper while Wright added a big basket for a 51-48 Alba edge after 30 minutes.
McElroy nailed a three-pointer right at the start of the fourth quarter, as FB Ulker kept struggling to get its main players involved. Fenerbahce went scoreless for more than 2 minutes until Erden stepped up with a layup. Sesay scored down low but Erden kept pacing Fener with a jumper. Steffen Hamann shined with a layup and fed McElroy for a fast break dunk that made the guests call timeout at 60-52. Fenerbahce could not find the way to the basket, while Chubb scored down low and soon split free throws to make it an 11-point game, 63-52. Meanwhile, Chubb sealed the outcome with more free throws, 65-52. FB Ulker needed a miracle comeback in the final 3 minutes and Green tried to ignit it with a three-pointer. Alba did not panic, however, and started to use long possessions to run down the game clock. Back-to-back fast break dunks by McElroy, however, allowed all Alba fans to celebrate a big home win in style.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008