Fenerbahce eliminates Efes from the playoff race

In Ulker Sports And Event Hall, the Turkish derby Fenerbahce-Efes in the Euroleague promises to be incendiary. A huge stake for the two powerhouses, with a defeat of Fenerbahce, would endanger its place in the playoffs and the back-to-back champion would have been eliminated in the event of a defeat. For both, missing the Euroleague playoffs would be a huge failure.

Fenerbahce without Scottie Wilbekin, Devin Booker and Nemanja Bjelica started the match with Nick Calathes, Tyler Dorsey, Nigel Hayes-Davis, Dyshawn Pierre, and Johnathan Motley. On the other hand, Ataman chose to start with Vasilije Micic, Rodrigue Beaubois, Elijah Bryant, Will Clyburn, and Ante Zizic.

The first quarter was balanced until 15-15 with Calathes in great form having 9 points. But the quarter-final belonged to the hosts who finished the quarter with an 8-2 run for a 23-17, the guests’ backcourt still not up to the stakes of the match.

The second quarter continued in the final note of the first quarter with Fenerbahce leading, Guduric with his first 2 points led the score to double digits 34-24. It was necessary for Micic to shine by scoring 6 points and reducing the difference to 6 points, 36-30. Calathes with a three-pointer managed to be the first to reach double digits with 11 points, once again establishing a difference of 10 points, 44-34, halftime score 48-40. You can feel the stakes of the match and from the approach of the 2 coaches, at halftime in the Turkish derby we don’t have any Turkish scorer (Larkin was born in the USA).

The 3rd quarter begins with the Zizic-Larkin-Micic trio making the law and bringing Efes back into the game 54-52, points scored by both sides follow and the score becomes 65-63 and the reigning champion starts dreaming of the playoffs again but the quarter-final belongs to the hosts 72-64.

The beginning of the 4th quarter did not announce what was to come, after 3 minutes of the quarter Efes managed to reduce the gap again to only 4 points 81-77, but then Hayes-Davis, Dorsey, Guduric started a recital helped by Clyburn’s airballs, managing to pass of 100 points, final score 103-86. The finale was tense, with ugly scenes and Ataman walked out of the gym with 31 seconds left.

The match ended without any Turkish player scoring and playing for a total of 10 seconds, quite sad for a Turkish derby. Hayes had a magical evening with 26 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists; Dorsey 17 points and Pierre 17 points were the next scorers for Fenerbahce, Efes Clyburn 21 points, Micic 16 points and Larkin 13 points tried to keep the chances of qualification.

Fenerbahce not only takes a huge step towards the playoffs but also eliminates its great rival and back-to-back champion. For Efes, it was a season full of injuries and matches in which the small line demonstrated its limits.

Valentin Petruta

Image credit: EuroLeague