Fenerbahçe Doğuş will take on Kirolbet Baskonia on April 20 in a Turkish Airlines Euroleague playoff game, hoping to win and take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series.
The reigning Euroleague champion beat Bakonia 82-73 at home on April 18 night to make a good start to the series whose winner will earn a place in next month’s Final Four in Belgrade.
Brad Wanamaker finished as Fenerbahçe’s top scorer with 16 points, while Kostas Sloukas scored 10 points and dished a career-high 11 assists.
Jan Vesely scored 13 points and 7 rebounds, while James Nunnally also scored 13 in the victory.
Tornike Shengelia was the visitors’ top scorer with 16 points. Rodrigue Beaubois scored 13 points, Luca Vildoza scored 12, and Matt Janning scored 11 in the losing effort.
The game marked the 10th playoff win in a row for Fenerbahçe, whose legendary coach Zeljko Obradovic said his side played against a tough opponent.
“We were prepared to play against a team that plays aggressive basketball defensively, always trying to run and score in transition,” said Obradovic, who won his ninth continental title with Fenerbahçe last season, after the game.
“At halftime we talked about how Baskonia never gives up and will try to come back, and that’s what happened. They continued to play aggressive, and we had to continue to be ready for that,” he added.
The coach congratulated his players and thanked the fans for their support.
“The series just started. The result is not important. One point or 11 points or 21 points, it’s all the same. The only important thing is that is in now 1-0 for us. Congratulations to my players for the win. The atmosphere in the gym was excellent. The fans always help the team and I’m sure they will help us again on Friday,” he said.
Fenerbahçe’s Luigi Datome, who finished the game with eight points, was also cautious.
“It feels good, but we won only one game,” said the Italian.
“Yes, it’s a critical match, but the second game will be even more important. The second game may be different but we have to react. We have to forget this game immediately. We will have a chance to go up 2-0, but we will have to try to play smart,” he added.
Baskonia’s Luca Vildoza said he believes the level of play his side performed in the second half gives them hope for the second game.
“In the second half we showed who we are and that we can win here,” said the 22-year old.
“We know that it’s going to be tough to beat the defending champion on their court, but everything is possible fighting for every ball. Our attitude will not change,” Vildoza added.
Also on April 20 in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague playoffs, Olympiacos will host Zalgiris Kaunas after suffering a 78-87 loss in the series opener on April 18.
The third games of these series will be played on April 24.