Fenerbahçe took firm control of its Turkish Airlines Euroleague playoffs series with Panathinaikos by claiming a 75-80 victory at the Olympic Sports Center on April 20 to go up 2-0 before next week’s return to Istanbul.
The Istanbul club will book its place in the Final Four to be played at Istanbul’s Sinan Erdem Dome on May 19-21 if he beats th Gree club at home in Game 3 on April 25.
No team has bounced back from a 2-0 deficit in the Euroleague since the introduction of the best-of-five format for the playoffs.
In Athens, Game 1 MVP Bogdan Bogdanovic was once again the hero for Fenerbahçe, posting 25 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists and a blocked shot.
He received ample assistance from Ekpe Udoh, who added 22 points on 11-of-14 two-point shooting and 9 rebounds, while Bobby Dixon added 14 points including three triples.
Panathinaikos was led by 22 points and 4 assists from Mike James, with big men Chris Singleton and Ioannis Bourousis adding 14 and 13 points respectively.
It was a close contest all the way, but Fenerbahçe’s defense had the final say by restricting the home team to nine points in the final eight minutes.
Fenerbahçe coach Zeljko Obradovic, who is aiming for his ninth Euroleague title with a fifth different team, praised his players for keeping their calm.
“We expected they would be very aggressive on defense and offense and it was like that,” said the experienced Serbian coach.
“It was different from the first game. It was very important after their excellent start to be calm and continue to play the way we planned the game, and we found a way to control the game. It’s obvious there was a possibility for Panathinaikos to win, so small details decided the outcome. We were focused, concentrated, the last two defenses we played very well, and because of that we won the game.”
Despite two away victories, Obradovic is still cautious.
“Congratulations to my players, two great road wins, but I told them now in the locker room it’s not over,” he said.
“We are playing a great team and they will come to play in Istanbul.”
Fenerbahçe star Bogdanovic was happy to have won in a very tough atmosphere in front of thousands of Panathinaikos fans.
““This atmosphere reminds me of when I used to play in Partizan Belgrade, it’s unbelievable and tough to win games like this,” he said, adding that the series is not over yet.
“We go step by step. They lost twice, it can happen to anyone and we need to stay calm and focused. We need one more win for the Final Four. We played excellent as a team and I’m proud of my teammates.”
Elsewhere in the Euroleague, Kyle Hines collected an offensive rebound and sank a pair of free throws with 1.1 seconds remaining to lift CSKA Moscow to a tough 84-82 victory over Baskonia in Moscow and a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series.
Milos Teodosic scored 13 of his 16 points in the first five minutes of the third quarter, while also dishing 8 assists for the winning side.
Nando De Colo scored 10 before fouling out and Hines finished with 10 points, too.
Beaubois paced Baskonia with 21 points, Chase Budinger added 12, Kim Tillie netted 10 points and 9 rebounds, Voigtmann also scored 10 and Larkin contributed 8 points and 8 assists in defeat.