Obradovic seeks win against former club Panathinaikos
Bayern Munich’s forward Robin Benzing (L) and Fenerbahçe’s Serbian forward Nemanja Bjelica vie for the ball during the Euroleague Basketball match.Coaching legend Zeljko Obradovic will be hosting his former team, Panathinaikos, when Fenerbahçe Ülker plays the Greek side in Istanbul tonight in the Turkish Arilines Euroleague.
The two teams enter the game tied for second place in Group C and riding modest win streaks. The Greens handed Fenerbahçe its worst loss of the season, 91-73, in the first game in Athens, as A.J. Slaughter starred for Panathinaikos with 23 points, going 7-for-10 from outside the arc. Panathinaikos will continue looking to Dimitris Diamantidis and Slaughter to lead the backcourt, though the team boasts shooters at virtually every position.
Fenerbahçe can answer with Andrew Goudelock, Ricky Hickman and Bogdan Bogdanovic, making the backcourt matchup one of the best to see this week.
“It will be a game that is important for both teams because, first of all, both teams have already qualified for the Top 16, but it doesn’t matter,” Obradovic told euroleague.net. “We want to continue to play well, how we played the last games, and I am sure that Panathinaikos will want the same, so it is a game I consider very important for us,” he said.
For Fenerbahçe’s Nemanja Bjelica, playing in front of own fans is enough motivation for a victory.
“They help us so much and I would like to call out to them that they come to the arena to support us,” said the forward. “If we win, we will be in a good position to grab second place in the group.”
Panathinaikos coach Dusko Ivanovic acknowledged that it will be a tough game since both teams are seeking a better position in the standings.
“At this moment Fenerbahçe is playing much better than in the first leg,” said the Montenegrin. “They are an excellent team with a group of excellent players.”
Also tonight, Anadolu Efes travels to Zalgiris Kaunas for a Group A game, while coach Dusan Inkovic is concerned about the injured players in his team.
“In this period it is difficult for us to work as a whole team due to injuries,” he said.
“We have three players in the injury list. [Osman] Cedi was injured in our last Turkish League game. [Nenad] Krstic has a long-term injury. [Matt] Janning is crucial for the game. We will try to play one good game in Kaunas, it will be tough but we will try to play our best for the victory.”
Anadolu Efes player Deniz Kılıç noted that the players have learned from the loss against Zalgiris in the first game in Istanbul. “We know what we did or could not do in the game against Zalgiris at home,” he said. “After working well on this issues and after performing the best of ours on court, we want to get a victory in Lithuania.”