Fenerbahce destroys Panathinaikos to seal playoffs berth
Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul became the first team to secure playoffs qualification with a comprehensive 85-66 home victory over Panathinaikos OPAP Athens on Friday night. The Turkish team raced away with the game in the second quarter and never looked back, ensuring a post-season berth in impressive fashion. Fenerbahce’s Italian duo did much of the damage, as Nicolo Melli scored 14 points while Gigi Datome added 12, with both players only missing one shot. Marko Guduric also scored 12 points, and Erick Green netted all 12 of his points in the final quarter. Sean Kilpatrick paced Panathinaikos, which has now lost nine consecutive away games, with 19 points, and DeShaun Thomas added 13.
Thomas scored 5 early points to send Panathinaikos ahead, but a three-pointer and fade-away jumper from Datome sparked Fenerbahce. A big slam from Ahmet Duverioglu gave the home team its first lead, and triples from Melih Mahmutoglu and Melli made it 20-15. Joffrey Lauvergne and Mahmutoglu stretched the lead, before Adreian Payne’s jumper on the buzzer reduced the deficit to 24-18 at the end of the first. Ian Vougioukas scored twice early in the second to pull Panathinaikos back, but Datome, Duverioglu and Guduric gave Fener a 6-0 run and a 31-24 lead. Defenses were on top for the next few minutes, but Melli’s third three-pointer gave the home team a double-digit lead. Kalinic went coast-to-coast and Guduric struck from deep at the buzzer, making it 48-29 at the break. Calathes and Datome traded triples early in the third, and Guduric extended the lead to 20 points from long-range. Melli scored two more baskets – including another triple – but Kilpatrick ended the third quarter with a pair of baskets to make it 63-46. Green scored 9 fast points early in the fourth for a 72-46 edge, before Fener coach Zeljko Obradovic took the opportunity to give a EuroLeague debut to 18-year-old Tarik Biberovic – and the forward obliged by scoring his first points with a layup as the clock wound down.
Magic Melli does it all
Versatile Fener star Nicolo Melli showcased his full array of talents in this encounter. The Italian big man made 4-of-5 three-point shots in his total of 14 points, and also contributed 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals.
Second quarter burst boosts Fener
A basket from Ian Vougioukas made it 25-24 early in the second, but Fenerbahce then went on a 23-5 run for the remainder of the quarter to blow the game wide open, and Panathinaikos never got closer than 15 the rest of the way.
Lojeski injury rocks Greens
Panathinaikos’s hopes were hit early in the second quarter when Matt Lojejski was forced to the sidelines through injury. The veteran swingman played no further part after spending just five minutes on the floor.
Fenerbahce will return from the bye week with a local derby trip to Darussafaka Tekfen Istanbul, while Panathinaikos faces a home meeting with Khimki Moscow Region.
Friday, February 8, 2019