Fenerbahce rallies in Kaunas to stay perfect
Fenerbahce Istanbul took its show on the road and stayed perfect by stopping host Zalgiris Kaunas by 75-82 on Friday, five months after having done the same in last spring's semifinals. Fenerbahce took its first lead mid-way through the fourth quarter, but was in control thereafter to go 3-0 in the standings. Zalgiris dropped to 1-2. Kostas Sloukas poured in 20 points, Luigi Datome 11 and Jan Vesely 10 for the winners, who outscored their hosts 18-29 in the fourth quarter. Zalgiris got 23 points from Nate Wolters, 14 each from Arturas Milaknis and Brandon Davies.
Milaknis and Wolters had 5 points each as Zalgiris led 10-4 but Datome matched to get Fenerbahce within 14-12. Leo Westermann and Antanas Kavaliauskas revived Zalgiris and Milaknis returned to beat the buzzer for a 25-18 lead after 10 minutes. Davies upped the difference to double digits twice before Thomas Walkup and Wolters blew it up to 38-22. Sloukas led the visitors on a 0-9 run but Paulius Jankunas and Davies steadied Zalgiris to lead 42-34 at halftime. Sloukas got Fenerbahce closer but Wolters answered before late shots by Marius Grigonis and Tyler Ennis left a 57-53 scoreboard after three quarters. Sloukas hit a set-up triple and Datome the go-ahead one for Fenerbahce's first lead at 61-63, Wolters answered in kind, but Ennis hit a triple and Joffrey Lauvergne an inside bucket as Fenerbahce soared ahead 64-72. Milaknis and Wolters kept it close from deep, but Sloukas and Ennis replied. Westermann's triple made it 75-79 going into the final minute, but Ennis hit free throws and drew an offensive foul to settle the matter.
Strong start for Zalgiris
Zalgiris, expecting a war of attrition, got everyone involved early, had nine different scorers before the game's 15th minute, and soon led by 16 points, 38-22. A 0-9 run then got Fenerbahce back in the battle and the shot-sharing that gave Zalgiris its big lead disappeared. Only Davies and Wolters seemed able to score much the rest of the way.
Vesely the foul shooter
Both teams missed just 1 free throw but the player who made the most, 6 for 6, was Fenerbahce center Jan Vesely. The days when Vesely suffered at the foul line, as when he went 1 for 10 there in the 2016 championship game, are history. This season, he is now 15 for 15 at the stripe.
Tyler Ennis arrives
Much like his teammate Ali Muhammed two nights earlier, Tyler Ennis entered the game late, with a minute left in the third quarter, and got his first 2 points just before it ended. He remained on court in a three-point lineup with Ali and Sloukas and was big down the stretch. In the last 4:21 he scored his last 7 points, dished an assist, and drew a key offensive foul with 33 seconds left that shut the door on Zalgiris.
Fenerbahce entered the game ranked first in two-point accuracy at 66.7% and second from three-point distance at 50%. The Zalgiris defense lowered those numbers to 46% and 31%, respectively, in the first half. After the break, the visitors restored their previous rates, shooting 10 of 15 on twos (66%) and 7 of 10 on threes (70%) in the second half to make way with the victory.
Zalgiris takes to the road for an all-green battle against Panathinaikos in Athens on Friday of Round 4. Fenerbahce plays away only in one sense as it crosses the Bosphorus Strait to take on Anadolu Efes in the season's first Istanbul derby on Thursday.
Friday, October 19, 2018