By Lefteris Moutis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
BELGRADE – The champs are back in the final after beating feisty Zalgiris Kaunas 76-67. The Lithuanians come back twice in the game after trailing by double-digits but in the last period Bobby Dixon with two big threes put Fenerbahce up by 10 (62-52) and kept things in distances.
Zalgiris made it a six points game (66-60) with five minutes left. They couldn’t do much more. Brandon Davies cut the lead to five (71-66) with 45 seconds left, Kostas Sloukas answered with a transition bucket (73-66) and with 39 seconds on the clock, Zalgiris was called for a five seconds violation. Sloukas made a big three (76-66) and the game was over.
Dixon finished the semifinal with 19 points on 8/11 FG in just 10 minutes of action. Gigi Datome who set the tone early for Fenerbahce got 16 points and Sloukas added 14 points. From the losing side, Kevin Pangos scored 16 points, dished four assists and also had five turnovers, while Davies had a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Fenerbahce started the game with a 7-1 run, as Zalgiris players were clearly rattled by the physical defense of Zeljko Obradovic‘s unit and their debut to a EuroLeague Final Four.
The first quarter ended with Fenerbahce leading 19-13 and the second period started with them building an 11 points lead (37-26) thanks to Datome who finished the first half with 12 points and also because Zalgiris had 12 turnovers. Still, the Lithuanians stayed close and finished the first half trailing by six (39-33) after Pangos managed to run the court in four seconds and pass to Aaron White for the dunk.
Zalgiris cut the lead to four (39-35), but it was time again for Fenerbahce to make a run. With a partial 11-2 score the defending champs got a 13 points advantage (50-37). Once more Zalgiris reacted and cut the lead to two (50-48) after a long three by Pangos and an 11-0 run. The third period ended with Fenerbahce leading by four (54-50) with Dixon making a tough shot and beating the buzzer. It was just a sign of things to come in the last quarter.