Fener takes on Khimki hoping for maiden win
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Fenerbahce Ulker’s Croatian forward Bojan Bogdanovic (L) jumps to score during their Euroleague top 16 basketball match, against Maccabi Tel Aviv, on January 10, 2013, at the Nokia stadium in the Mediterranean coastal city of Tel Aviv. AFP PhotoFenerbahçe Ülker hosts Russia’s BC Khimki tonight, hoping to get its first win in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Top 16.
The Yellow Canaries, who are tied with Istanbul rival Beşiktaş for the bottom spot in their Group F, will host to keep its hopes for the Final Eight round.
Khimki is tied for third place in Group F with a 3-1 record and wants to keep its momentum going.
The two teams already faced each other in the regular season and split home wins.
Fenerbahçe Ülker, who was deemed as one of the favorites to win the title this season, is on a disappointing run and hopes to turn things around. The Istanbul team has won just two of its last 10 Euroleague games.
However, BC Khimki coach Rimas Kurtinaitis is wary of Fenerbahçe’s potential.
“Despite the 0-4 record in Top 16, Fenerbahçe Ülker it still a dangerous team,” he told the Euroleague website. “I suppose it will be a fatal game for our opponent because they want to advance. For sure, the meeting is extremely important for our squad as in the case of victory we will consolidate our grip on Group F. We are in a good shape, guys are concentrated but as I always say the chances are 50-50,” he added.
Khimki comes off a big home win over Maccabi Electra in which center Paul Davis won the Most Valuable Player of the week award. Davis leads a deep Khimki frontcourt that also features blue-collar center James Augustine, veteran big men Matt Nielsen and Kresimir Loncar, as well as forward Sergey Monya, who is able to open the floor with his deep shooting range and driving skills. Davis must use his strength and post skills against the more-experienced David Andersen. Augustine faces a physical battle against Mike Batiste, in one of the big keys to this game.
Loncar and Nielsen must use their experience and toughness to slow İlkan Karaman and Oğuz Savaş. Romain Sato may see playing time at power forward to guard Monya, as he can match his intensity and quickness. Sato, however, will be Fenerbahçe’s main option at small forward, where he shares playing time with scoring ace Bojan Bogdanovic. Veteran stopper Ömer Onan and forward Emir Preldzic give coach Simone Pianigiani plenty of options off the bench.
Onan and Bogdanovic will test their scoring skills against two players in very good shape, Petteri Koponen and Vitaly Fridzon. Sato must do his best to stop K.C. Rivers, who downed a buzzer-beating game-winning shot in the teams’ last regular season showdown.
“It’s an extremely important road game,” Davis said. “It will be tough but we have very good chances.”