Game Notes: Barcelona at Fenerbahce
Ricky Rubio leads Barcelona in clash of Euroleague favorites.
by Yusuf Atahan Erim
Reigning Euroleague champion Regal Barcelona won a hard fought battle in Istanbul last night in front of a sold-out crowd at Sinan Erdem Arena against Turkish Champion Fenerbahce Ulker, 75-69. Barcelona jumped out in front early, taking a 12-4 lead four minutes into the game with buckets from Slovenian national Erazem Lorbek and former Orlando Magic draft pick Fran Vazquez down low. Fenerbahce answered with a long range three by Marko Thomas. However Barcelona was able to recover with smooth ball handling by NBA lottery pick Rickey Rubio, leading to easy baskets in the paint as Barcelona was able to preserve their lead and close out the first period 21-14.
Barcelona began the second period just were they left off, extending their lead even further with early baskets by point guard Jaka Lakovic and former Golden State Warrior big-man Kosta Perovic. Fenerbahce’s new acquisition, ex-Charlotte Bobcat forward Sean May made his European debut with eight minutes left to play in the half. Barcelona kept finding easy baskets in the paint with flawless ball movement, keeping the Fenerbahce defenders off-balance. A three-pointer by Lakovic late in the quarter opened the lead to 13 points and forced Fenerbahce to take another timeout. Baskets by Roko Ukic, who joined Fenerbahce from the Milwaukee Bucks, and May, kept the Turkish team in the game as the first half ended 40-28.
Fenerbahce came out of the halftime break motivated, with Ukic’s three-pointer and former Cleveland Cavalier Tarence Kinsey’s back-to-back buckets cutting Barcelona’s lead down to five. Both teams continued to trade baskets until Barcelona coach Xavier Pascual got a technical foul, leading to a pair of successful free-throws for the opposition. Then Thomas hit another three ball, capping of an 8-0 run and enabling Fenerbahce to cut a 19 point lead to three with four minutes remaining in the third. However,Barcelona was able to answer back with strong play down low, preventing Fenerbahce from taking the lead. Barcelona was up 56-51 at the end of three.
Barcelona opened the fourth quarter with effective post play from ex-Clipper Boniface Ndong. But Fenerbahce kept hanging around with nice dribble penetration by guard Omer Onan. The game’s breaking point came with seven minutes left to play as Rubio scored five unanswered points to push Barcelona’s lead to nine. Fenerbahce tried to answer with a basket by Kaya Peker but sloppy ball handling late in the game led to key turnovers as Barcelona was able to preserve their lead and hang on, 75-69.
Barcelona’s Boniface Ndong led all scorers with 14 points, and teammate Rickey Rubio recorded a double-double with 10 points and 10 assists. Roko Ukic was the high scorer for the home team with 13 and Mirsad Turkcan led all players with 12 rebounds.
Despite the loss, Fenerbahce Ulker has qualified for the round of 16, with a 6-2 record and second place in Group C, a game behind 7-1 Montepaschi Siena. Regal FC Barcelona, who are also in Group C, have also qualified for the round of 16, with a 6-2 record but are in third place due to an unfavorable head-to-head aggregate with Fenerbahce.