Fenerbahce runs away from Crvena Zvezda to clinch first place
Fenerbahce Istanbul used great defensive effort in the second half to beat Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade 79-61 and clinch first place in Group A on Friday night. Fenerbahce improved to 7-2 while Zvezda dropped to 4-5 and a three-way tie for third place. Zvezda jumped to an early nine-point lead behind Maik Zirbes and Stefan Jovic, but Ekpe Udoh hustled inside and Bogdan Bogdanovic hit from the outside to give Fenerbahce 39-37 halftime lead. The hosts never relinquished the edge after the break, keeping Zvezda scoreless for almost 5 minutes to start both third and fourth quarters, paving the way for a big margin of victory. Udoh had 13 points and had 4 blocks to lead the way. Luigi Datome scored 12 with 8 rebounds. Pero Antic added 12 points, while Bogdanovic netted 10 for Fenerbahce. Marko Simonovic hit 5 of 8 shots from downtown, scoring 15 points in defeat. Zirbes had 12 points, Vladimir Stimac scored 11, Quincy Miller grabbed 11 rebounds while Marcus Williams dished 10 assists for Zvezda, which next week hosts FC Bayern Munich in a direct battle for a Top 16 berth in the Serbian capital.
First quarter: Zvezda jumps in front
Zirbes started scoring inside, and after Udoh powered in a basket-plus-foul for Fenerbahce, Simonovic buried a three-pointer and Jovic drove for a layup to make it 3-7. Bobby Dixon hit a triple for the hosts, but Branko Lazic fed Zirbes for a layup. Bogdanovic opened his account with a jumper, but Zirbes had a put-back and Jovic had an open lane for a driving layup that made it 8-13. Udoh scored a tip-in, but Zirbes finished fastbreak with a layup as Zvezda dominated on the boards early, collecting 5 offensive boards in the first 5 minutes. Nikola Kalinic scored a pair of easy layups for the hosts, which Simonovic answered with a corner-triple. Vladimir Stimac scored inside for Zvezda before Udoh beat the buzzer from close range, making it 18-20 after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Antic and Bogdanovic rally Fener to halftime lead
Simonovic buried a second-chance triple to keep Zvezda in front early in the second quarter. After Kostas Sloukas wiggled his way for a nifty layup, Stimac scored a layup-plus-free throw and Lazic added a corner triple to help open a 21-30 advantage for the visitors. Sloukas and Lazic traded triples before Antic hit from long range, cutting the deficit to 27-33. Udoh worked his way inside again, but Ryan Thompson went on a breakaway and scored to keep the visitors with slim lead with 3:35 left in the quarter. Bogdanovic answered right back with his first triple, and after Jovic drove all the way for a layup high off the glass, Bogdanovic’s corner three put Fenerbahce ahead 39-37 at halftime.
Third quarter: Fenerbahce takes control
The hosts turned it up defensively at the start of the third quarter while Bogdanovic hit a short baseline jumper, and Jan Vesely made a short step-back shot, 43-37. Udoh added a basket inside. The Fenerbahce defense got Zvezda out of sync, holding the visitors scoreless for almost 5 minutes as Vesely's monster dunk made it 47-37, the first double-digit lead. Simonovic ended Zvezda's drought with a tough three-pointer and Stimac added a pair of free throws and a layup. Datome snapped Zveda's 0-7 run with a corner three. Williams knocked down a mid-range jumper, but Antic answered with a floater before Sloukas fed Udoh for an easy dunk at 54-46. Datome went coast-to-coast, restoring a double-digit margin, but Simonovic hit his fifth triple, helping the visitors cut the difference to 58-51 after 30 minutes.
Fourth quarter: Fenerbahce defense puts the game away
Antic drove for a layup, and Kalinic buried a three-pointer to open 63-51 after 60 seconds in the fourth quarter. A tough baseline floater from Datome opened a 14-point margin, forcing a Zvezda timeout. But the visitors were without a point again for almost 5 minutes to start the quarter. Udoh extended the lead from close range, and Datome hit a corner three that made it 70-51. Quincy Miller ended a 12-0 run with a three-pointer, his first points of the night. Zirbes scored inside, but Antic made a baseline jumper. Nemanja Dangubic cut it to 73-58, but Sloukas dished a look-away pass to feed Vesely for a layup. Zirbes and Omer Yurtseven traded baskets inside, before Ricky Hickman in his first game back after a long-term injury, rounded out the scoring by banking in a runner to end a big win for Fenerbahce.
Friday, December 11, 2015