Baskonia stays on track after blowing away Fenerbahce, 92-69
Cazoo Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz kept its playoff hopes alive on Friday night after a majestic performance by shooting guard Vanja Marinkovic, who sank a career-high 35 points, helped the Spanish side to an impressive 92-69 home victory against Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul. Baskonia improved to 17-15 and Fenerbahce dropped to 18-14 ahead of the final two regular-season rounds, with both sides still having work to do in order to secure postseason berths.
Darius Thompson added 13 points for Baskonia, while Rokas Giedraitis and Daulton Hommes chipped in with 12 each. At the other end, Jonathan Motley scored 18 points for Fenerbahce, Carsen Ewdards netted 16 and Tarik Biberovic had 10.
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It was a contrasting week for the two sides as Baskonia made it two wins out of two after a hard-fought 93-87 defeat of ALBA Berlin while Fenerbahce completed its tour of Spain on a sour note, having also lost 90-75 at Real Madrid on Wednesday.
Baskonia took an early lead on the back of 8 points from Marinkovic in the first quarter, but Fenerbahce quickly found its rhythm and the visitors led by as many as 8 points in the first half, with Baskonia struggling on offense. It was another tough outing for the home team’s point guard Markus Howard, who picked up a knock late in the first quarter and made little impact after returning to action. At halftime, Fenerbahce led 38-44.
However, Marinkovic lit up the contest with a huge second half, scoring 23 points after the break to send the home crowd into raptures and keep Baskonia’s playoff fate in its own hands. Few would have predicted such a rollercoaster after the opening two quarters, but the hosts never looked back after they turned a 45-54 deficit early in the third quarter into a 60-58 lead ahead of the final 10 minutes.
It was one-way traffic in the fourth quarter as Marinkovic drained one three-pointer after another, mixing long-range artillery with delightful drives to the basket to carry his team. Baskonia was 73-65 ahead midway through the final period and Fenerbahce had nothing left in the tank down the stretch, eventually going down easily as its backcourt had no reply for the home team’s firepower.
It will be an anxious last two weeks of the regular season for the Turkish side, which hosts compatriots and reigning champs Anadolu Efes Istanbul in the penultimate round before a potentially daunting trip to Crvena Zvezda Meridianbet Belgrade in the final game of the regular season.
Baskonia should have a straightforward task at home against bottom team ASVEL in its next game before finishing its regular-season campaign with a visit to league leader Olympiacos Piraeus.