Italian Luigi Datome led an unstoppable second half serge as Fenerbahce disposed of Crvena Zvezda 72-65 to stay on top of Group E in the Euroleague Top 16.
Trailing 34-26 in a poor first half, Datome and Bogdan Bogdanovic tore into the Red Star front line, going on a 14-0 run in the third quarter, and holding the Serbs to just six points as Fenerbahce took a 49-40 cushion going into the fourth period and never looking back.
It was certainly a contrast to a fairly amateur-ish first two quarters of play, where the hosts were out of sorts and deservedly behind at the break. But the third quarter surge was the difference maker, as Fenerbahce go to a Top 16-best 8-1, while Crvena Zvezda drops to 5-4.
Datome, in the end finished with 27 points, 22 of those came in the final two quarters.
“We give them better answers and in the third quarter played so much better,” Fenerbahce coach Zeljko Obradovic said. “Datome had a great second half. Overall he was very good, with very few misses. But most important was our teamwork. We won the match in the second half because the team gave a very good response.”
Olympiacos dented Laboral Kutxa’s quarter-final aspirations as the 2013 winners defeated the Liga Endesa side emphatically in Piraeus.
Georgios Printezis scored 13 of his team-high 17 points in the first quarter for Olympiacos who started well then rode clear with a 16-0 run in the second to seal an 82-68 success.
The Reds still have work to do though at 4-5 in Group F, while Laboral Kutxa go to 6-3 as their five-game winning streak comes to an end.
While a winning run has ended, another one could be beginning for Group F’s basement side Zalgiris as they edged Brose Baskets 75-73 in Kaunas.
Ian Vougioukas put Zalgiris ahead with 30 seconds left and Bamberg were unable to capitalise despite two attempts to salvage something from the game.
It was a historic night as well for Zalgiris captain Paulius Jankunas, as he not only led the winners with 17 points and 13 rebounds but also overtook Mirsad Turkcan for third place in rebounds total in Euroleague history. Jankunas also reached 2,000 Euroleague points in the second quarter for a second milestone.
“It was a close game and we never thought that we have the win in our pocket,” Jankunas said. “We had a 9-10-point lead, but we knew Brose Baskets always plays till the last second. We played in front of our fans and improved a lot from the last meeting against Brose Baskets, which allowed us to win tonight.”