Fener plays at Caja, aims for the top

Fener plays at Caja, aims for the top

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Fener plays at Caja, aims for the top

Fenerbahçe Ülker guard Bojan Bogdanovic tries to dribble past an opponent during his team’s game against Bennet Cantu. REUTERS photo

Fenerbahçe Ülker visits Caja Laboral tonight, looking to take top spot in Group A of the Turkish Airlines Euroleague.

The Istanbul side will try to avenge its opening match day loss to the Spanish outfit.

Galatasaray, meanwhile, will try to beat Asseco Prokom in Group D.

Fenerbahçe has shown remarkable character in bouncing back from back-to-back defeats, going on to win three consecutive matches.

After losing to Caja Laboral 69-66 on Oct. 19, Fenerbahçe suffered another defeat at the hands of Olympiacos on Oct. 27. However, Fenerbahçe beat SLUC Nancy, Gescrap Bizkaia Bilbao and Bennet Cantu to rise to third in the group.

Fenerbahçe, like group leader Caja Laboral and second-place Bennet Cantu, has a record of 3-2. Olympiacos, Gescrap Bizkaia Bilbao and SLUC Nancy have a 2-3 record to occupy the bottom three spots of the group.

Fenerbahçe coach Neven Spahija underlined the importance of the game.

“This is the key game in the group,” he was quoted as saying on the official website of the Euroleague. “Caja Laboral, just like us, is better than when we first played here in Istanbul. We also know each other better. It will be a tough game. It’s going to be very difficult to play against them in their home arena with their fans.”

Bennet Cantu plays at SLUC Nancy in the other Group D match tonight.

Fenerbahçe Ülker forward James Gist agreed that his team was far better than it was in October.

“I feel that now the first half of the first round has finished, we have grown to be a better team each game,” he said. “This game in Vitoria will be very important for the standings in our group. For us to go there and win against a very tough Caja Laboral team, we are going to have to focus as a team and play our game plan the entire 40 minutes.”

While Fenerbahçe would likely sew up a Top 16 spot with a win at Caja Laboral, Galatasaray will try to get its third win in Group D.

Galatasaray beat Asseco Prokom in its first-ever match in the Euroleague and recorded a historic win in Poland. Prokom finished the first half of the group with no wins, and Galatasaray will try to prevent its opponent from posting a debut win.

Prokom center Donatas Motiejunas praised Galatasaray but said his team had a chance to win the game.

“Galatasaray is a very experienced team,” he said. “We are young and ambitious so I think that we should try to push the tempo to the highest level. They play at home so they will get fans’ support, but if we will come out with energy and we show a good effort we got a chance to win the game.”

Barcelona Regal is the runaway leader in the group with a perfect 5-0 record and is trailed by another Final Four hopeful, Montepaschi Siena, which is 4-1.

Unics Kazan has three wins, one more than fourth-place Galatasaray.

Union Olimpija is fifth with one win in five matches and visits Barcelona in another Group D game.

The top four teams in the four groups advance to the Top 16 stage.