Fenerbahce have drawn first blood by beating Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv 80-72 in their best-of-five Euroleague quarter-final series.
The Turkish side certainly did not have it their own way as they recovered from a 56-46 deficit early in the third to lead 59-58 late on in the same quarter, thanks to a floater from Andrew Goudelock.
Fenerbahce looked rejuvenated from there and thanks to the clutch performance of Jan Vesely, who ended up with 23 points, eight of which came in the final four minutes, the hosts were able to take game one.
“The game developed the way I expected. It was a tough game,” explained Fenerbahce coach Zeljko Obradovic. “[Jeremy] Pargo played like a leader and he was a big problem for us. We played much better in the second half. We had more patience on offence.
“I’m happy that we won, but it’s only 1-0 and we must be very focused in the second game because Maccabi played excellent. I want to thank our fans who gave us a lot of energy and I hope they will do that again on Thursday.”
Jeremy Pargo led all scorers with 25 for the current Euroleague champions, but it wasn’t enough as Maccabi have to fight from a game down.
While the Playoff atmosphere was felt in Istanbul, it was not felt in the Russian capital as CSKA Moscow romped to a 93-66 victory over Panathinaikos, who were missing AJ Slaughter.
Leading 29-21 after the first quarter, CSKA stepped their game up in the second, by holding their Greek counterparts to just six points – and as a result – the Muscovites took a comfortable 56-27 lead heading to the half-time break and it was all over as a contest from there.
“For sure, we have reserves on defence, but we won the second and third quarters combined with 48-21 score,” said CSKA coach Dimitris Itoudis.
“And in the end we shared the minutes and were not so focused, making some stupid turnovers and allowing easy baskets. But it would have been different a in tougher situation, and I know that we can play better.
“This is just 1-0, and we have long series ahead. Panathinaikos did not show real picture in Game 1, they are better than you saw; they definitely miss the injured [AJ] Slaughter.
Milos Teodosic led CSKA with 18 points and eight assists in a well balanced scoring attack from the Russians. Nikos Pappas led Panathinaikos with 16 off the bench.