Euroleague Basketball
Photo: Euroleague Basketball

Real Madrid have the chance to make it third time lucky.

The runners-up of the last two Euroleague title games eased past Fenerbahce 96-85 to set up a repeat of the 2013 title game against Olympiacos.

But while Real Madrid were pushed all the way by their rivals Barcelona in London, two years ago, there was to be no repeat in the Spanish capital.

Real were solid, composed, organised and at times flamboyant. Gustavo Ayon led the victors with 18 points, supported by 17 points from KC Rivers.

Andrew Goudelock paced Fenerbahce with 27 points as they have to settle for the third place game on Sunday evening against CSKA Moscow.

It was a harsh way to lose your Final Four virginity, but the Istanbul outfit can no doubt learn from this experience – and hopefully next season – if they keep the core of their squad, they can aim for glory.

To start though, it was Fenerbahce began the brighter of the two sides as they were relaxed and patient offensively, constantly looking to Czech Republic international Jan Vesely and calling him to be aggressive inside, which worked.

The “home” team though had their own answers on the offensive end, the backcourt of Rudy Fernandez and Sergio Rodriguez, the latter coming off the bench, helped Real Madrid, but they trailed their Turkish counterparts 21-20 after one.

That lead didn’t last. Real caught fire early in the second quarter and with four minutes left, a Rivers three followed by a long two from Jonas Maciulis gave the Liga Endesa side a 42-28 cushion.

Madrid, led by the hot shooting touch of Rivers were relentless, Fenerbahce in contrast were unable to give their MVP Nemanja Bjelica neither their passionate supporters a lift and by the time the buzzer went, signalling the half, Real were up 55-35 and cruising.

The second quarter scoreline and overall play at one point was so one-sided that the biggest cheer of the first half, emanating from Fenerbahce’s own corner of fans was the image of Fernandez’s fiancé on the big screen.

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But despite the large deficit, Fenerbahce continued to chip away at the lead and a three from the corner by Melih Mahmutoglu trimmed the gap to 67-51, half-way through the third, forcing Real coach Pablo Laso into a timeout.

After that timeout, Real managed to weather the mini storm and their lead went back up to 81-61 early in the final period thanks to a basket inside from Andres Nocioni, who with a solid resume, was competing in his first Final Four.

And a near impossible situation was made worse for Fenerbahce when Bjelica was fouled out with a harsh technical foul, followed by a cruel unsportsmanlike on Emir Preldzic.

It was the icing on the cake. Fenerbahce were beaten, but hopefully this first Final Four experience could serve them well in years to come.