By Eurohoops Team/ email@example.com
Fenerbahce Beko returned to winning after two straight losses and improved to 18-12 thanks to an 87-79 victory over Zalgiris Kaunas in Istanbul.
They defended the fifth spot in the EuroLeague standings and remained in the race with Monaco for home-court advantage in the playoffs, while Zalgiris squandered the chance to steady their position in the Top 8.
Big men dominated for Fener, with Nigel Hayes Davis scoring 19 points with six rebounds for a game-high PIR of 26.
“The game plan was to match Zalgiris’s effort and try to play Fenerbahce basketball. I am always gazing at shots I should have taken, and my mother hates it when I miss free throws, so I miss too many of those. Other than that, the team did a good job. We just have to continue to improve. It is the end of the season right now, so we need to turn in the right direction and, as I said, play Fenerbahce basketball. When we do that, we always have a good chance“, Hayes Davis said.
Tonye Jekiri added 13 points with five rebounds, while Johnathan Motley scored most of his points in the second half, finishing the match with 13 and four rebounds.
Tyler Dorsey had the best game so far in the Fenerbahce jersey, finishing with 15 points, while Marko Guduric added 14.
“We have to continue this and got another double round next week, so on to the next one. I feel comfortable now. It took a little bit of time, obviously, but I feel comfortable. The guys are understanding me, and I am understanding them every day. We will continue this, and that is why I am here. I am here to help win and do whatever I can on the court to get that done,” Dorsey noted after his best performance for the Istanbul team.
For Zalgiris, 18 points from Rolands Smits, Kevarrrius Hayes added 12 with just a rebound short of a double-double, while Isaiah Taylor finished with 11, and Ignas Brazdeikis with 10 points.
“I think a bad first half, especially the second quarter, cost us the win. We were minus-11 and tried to go back, but it was not enough to win the game. And, of course, our defense. Fenerbahce scored 87; it is too much for a defensive team like we. Of course, we are just one victory away from the playoffs zone and have three games at home and one game away. We still have a chance and will try to get it,” Zalgiris Kaunas head coach Kazys Maksvytis said.
Fenerbahce in control from the late first quarter
The first quarter was pretty even, but the hosts managed to pull away to a 22-16 in the dying moments. In the second quarter, Zalgiris tied to 35-35, but Fener finished the half strongly and gained some cushion with eleven straight points (46-35).
Dimitris Itoudis’ team stayed in front during the third period and gained a crucial 77-62 lead midway to the fourth. Zalgiris tried to answer and came within four points, but that was all from the guest. Fenerbahce kept the lead and deservedly won.
“We were coming from a loss and had to bounce back. The team bounced back, so that’s important. The desire is there. As soon as you see that the desire is there as a team, as a group of people that understand that we have qualities that we need to use on the court, then I am happy with that,” Itoudis said after the match.
Fenerbahce is now on the verge of booking a place in the playoffs, but in Round 31, they have another difficult task against Real Madrid on the road. Zalgiris is 15-15 with four games to go, still alive in the playoffs race, with the Monaco match coming up next week in Kaunas.