Zalgiris gains second straight win by powering past Fenerbahce
Zalgiris Kaunas gained its second straight win by downing Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul 86-75 at home on Friday. After a close first quarter Zalgiris gradually built a solid lead, which stretched to 15 points early in the second half before Fenerbahce fought back to get as close as 2 points. But roared on by a passionate crowd, the host was dominant in the final quarter and enjoyed a 12-2 run to seal the deal, completing a perfect double-round week for a 2-9 record. Former Fenerbahce player Edgaras Ulanovas topped all scorers with 18 points, while Mantas Kalnietis led the offense with a double-double of 11 points and 11 assists. Zoran Dragic added 13 points, Tai Webster scored 11 and Tyler Cavanaugh had 10. Nando De Colo led Fenerbahce with 17 points, while Pierria Henry and Jan Vesely both scored 13 for the visiting team, which drops to 3-8 after a three-game losing run.
Fenerbahce made a fast start with a triples from Henry and De Colo, along with a driving score from Vesely for a 4-9 lead. A three-pointer from Kalnietis helped pull Zalgiris closer, but Vesely and Devin Booker scored at the basket for a 9-15 lead. Ulanovas scored inside before Cavanaugh and De Colo traded triples, as the first quarter finished 16-18. Free throws from Lukas Lekavicius and a fastbreak layup from Webster gave Zalgiris its first lead, but Melih Mahmutoglu sparked Fenerbahce’s offense with two baskets. Webster added 5 more points for a 27-22 advantage, before Vesely reasserted the visitors with a three-point play. Ulanovas responded with a corner three, Dragic stretched the lead with layup off the glass, and a steal and score from Janis Strelnieks made it 38-29 at the break.
Marek Blazevic and Strelnieks stretched the lead to 43-29 early in the third. Marial Shayok and Vesely narrowed the gap, but Dragic inside and Strelnieks from deep made it a 15-point margin. A 0-9 run capped by Achille Polonara’s triple and Shayok’s transition layup reduced the lead to single digits, but Kalnietis’s three-pointer and Josh Nebo’s alley-oop reignited the hosts. Henry hit 5 straight points and Vesely added a tip-in to make it 56-52, before Webster scored 4 points in a row. De Colo floated in a buzzer beater to end the third quarter 64-59. Henry and Ulanovas traded long-range strikes early in the fourth, and Kalnietis was also on target from deep before Ulanovas restored a double-digit lead, 72-62. Dragic hit a triple and Kalnietis made a long two for a 79-68 advantage with three minutes remaining, before Ulanovas stretched the lead from the foul line. Then Dragic scored inside and Nebo dunked to seal the win, as Fenerbahce imploded in the final stages.
Ulanovas shines against former team
Playing against his former team, Edgaras Ulanovas enjoyed his best game so far this season for Zalgiris against Fenerbahce on Friday. The forward – who spent last season with the Turkish giant – led all scorers with 18 points by making 3 of his 5 two-point shots, 3 of 4 from beyond the arc and all 3 of his free throw attempts. In an all-action display, Ulanovas also grabbed 5 rebounds, dished 2 assists and made 2 steals for a PIR of 21 – his highest since his first spell with Zalgiris. His 18 points were his best since he netted 20 for Zalgiris also against Fenerbahce in the 2019 playoffs.
Long-range shooting boosts Zalgiris
A key to the outcome was Zalgiris’s excellent three-point shooting, with the hosts making 12 of its 26 shots from long-range (46.2%). The scoring was spread around the team with six different players scoring from three-point territory – notably not including usual ace marksman Arturas Milaknis, who did not score on the night. Ulanovas led the way with 3-of-4, while Mantas Kalnietis also hit 3 triples to help him achieve the first double-double – 11 points and 11 assists – of his EuroLeague career. Janis Strelnieks, Tyler Cavanaugh, Tai Webster, Zoran Dragic were also on target from deep.
Fener hits first quarter scoring problems again
Fenerbahce’s offense continued its unwanted habit of disappearing for long periods of the game in Friday’s meeting at Zalgiris. After scoring 3 points in the first quarter against AX Armani Exchange Milan last week and 12 points in the opening period against FC Bayern Munich on Tuesday, this time it was the second quarter to prove troublesome with just 11 points scored by the Turkish team. That allowed Zalgiris to establish a decent lead it would never relinquish, leading from early in the second quarter until the end of the game. Another offensive misfire sealed the outcome, as Fenerbahce scored just 2 points in a 4 minute period midway through the fourth, allowing Zalgiris to take a game-clinching lead.
Friday, November 19, 2021