Fenerbahçe heads to Israel with high hopes

Fenerbahçe heads to Israel with high hopes

BELGRADE - Reuters
Fenerbahçe heads to Israel with high hopes

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Fenerbahçe Ülker hit the court with a vengeance, took a big early lead and never looked back en route to an 82-67, Game 2 victory over Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv in the Euroleague Playoffs.

Andrew Goudelock led the way with 17 first-half points as Fenerbahçe took a 2-0 series lead and moved within one win of its first appearance in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four.

Maccabi hosts Game 3 – and if necessary, Game 4 – next week in Israel.

Fenerbahçe started 9-2 and extended the difference to 27-11 before the end f the opening quarter. Fenerbahçe led 50-34 at halftime and pushed the advantage into the 20s in the third quarter. Maccabi rallied to come within 12 in the fourth quarter, but Fenerbahçe responded before there was any real danger.

Goudelock finished with 19 points, Semih Erden tallied 12 on perfect shooting, Bojan Bogdanovic added 11 and Nemanja Bjelica came within one rebound of the Euroleague’s playoff record with nine points and 15 boards. Fenerbahçe outrebounded Maccabi 43-29. Jeremy Pargo led the visitors with 16 points, Brian Randle added 13 points and five steals, Nate Linhart scored 12 and Sylven Landesberg added 11 in defeat.

“Game 2 is a really important one and I think we played very well. We started very aggressively and because of that, we got a good lead in the first quarter, 30-14,” said Fenerbahçe coach Zeljko Obradovic. “It is logical, we tried to change some small details and I believe we did a great job tonight.

So congratulations to my players for a very important victory and of course to our fans, who once again made an excellent atmosphere.”

The coach remained poised as he said he knows “how difficult it is to play over there and how proud Maccabi is.”

“We have to be ready to play there. So we have time until Monday [April 20] to prepare ourselves and to try to play better than in the first two games. The goal is simple: we need one more victory,” the coach said.

Nemanja Bjelica of Fenerbahçe also said the second game was dangerous. “It’s a very big pleasure to play in front of these fans. But we haven’t finished the job yet. Now it will be more difficult; everybody knows how difficult it is to play in Tel Aviv. I hope that we will win the next game. We are going to win the next game.”

Maccabi coach Guy Goodes put the blame for the loss on poor defense. “I can’t explain what happened.
We had a game plan and nothing worked. Everything fell apart in the beginning of the game and it blew up in our faces,” he said. “We expected that Semih Erden would start, that didn’t surprise us, but we didn’t manage to deal with him.”

Yogev Ohayon of Maccabi was also surprised. “From the beginning they took control of the game and were first to every ball. On defense we were two steps behind on every play; that’s the story of the game,” he said. “They built a double-digit lead and from that point it was very hard to catch them.

Offensively we didn’t play right; a lot of times we came to the end of the shot clock in one-on-one situations and you can’t let that happen.”

CSKA Moscow, meanwhile, came within one win of its 12th Final Four in 13 years by beating Panathinaikos Athens 100-80 in Game 2 of their best-of-five playoffs series in the Russian capital on April 15.

CSKA has a 2-0 lead in the series, which now moves to Athens for a do-or-game Game 3 for Panathinaikos. Sonny Weems led the winners with 20 points and Andrei Kirilenko and Nando De Colo scored 16 apiece for CSKA. Milos Teodosic recorded eight assists as CSKA set a playoffs record with 28.