Road to Final Four: Fenerbahce Beko

We had historically balanced quarterfinals in the EuroLeague this season, where three out of the four series went to the decisive Game 5. It was also the first time in history when two lower-seeded teams managed to win the decisive game 5 on the road and qualify for the Final Four. One of these teams is Fenerbahce Istanbul, who eliminated Monaco.

The Turkish team had a rough season with many ups and downs but in the end, they managed to reach their potential and now they have a chance to fight for their second EuroLeague trophy in their history after winning in 2017 at home. It will also be their first participation in the Final Four since 2019 when they lost the semifinal against Anadolu Efes in Vitoria-Gasteiz.

Fenerbahce started the season with big ambitions and with Dimitris Itoudis as head coach. After a 5-1 start in the EuroLeague, it looked like things were going great in the yellow and blue side of Istanbul, but in November Fener had a stretch of four straight away games and they lost all of them, including a 31-point defeat in Belgrade against Crvena Zvezda. Then, despite beating Real Madrid in a thrilling game at home, they lost another two games on the road against Baskonia and Barcelona and the management decided to make a coaching change. They hired the team’s former player Sarunas Jasikevicius and the Lithuanian had an immediate impact as the results improved a lot.

In the end, Fener finished the regular season with a 20-14 record that was enough for 6th place so they had to play 3rd placed Monaco in the playoffs. After a solid performance, they managed to immediately steal the home court advantage from Monaco winning Game 1, but in Game 4 in a packed Ulker Sport Arena and the qualification in their hands Fener lost in a low-scoring game 62-65 meaning that the series returned to the Salle Gaston Medecin for a decisive Game 5. After a dramatic game that went to overtime, Fenerbahce won in the end by one point and will go to Berlin to fight for the trophy. In the semifinal, Fener will play against Panathinaikos, another former club of coach Jasikevicius.

Nigel Hayes-Davis is the leading scorer for Fenerbahce this season with 14.1 points per game, followed by Scottie Wilbekin and Johnathan Motley. Hayes-Davis also became the player with the most points scored in one EuroLeague game in the history of the competition, when he scored 50 points against Alba Berlin in March. Hayes-Davis also lead the team in rebounds, while Nick Calathes has, as expected, the most assists per game.

Imre Halasz

Photo: EuroLeague