Fener­bahçe ready for THY Euroleague Fi­nal Four in Bel­grade

Europe’s top-tier teams square off to­day in the Turk­ish Air­lines Euroleague Fi­nal Four, the last leg of the pres­ti­gious tour­na­ment where Turkey’s Fener­bahçe Doğuş takes on Lithua­nia’s Zal­giris Kau­nas while Real Madrid will chal­lenge CSKA Moscow

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Front Page -

FOR two days, Europe’s pres­ti­gious bas­ket­ball clubs will be in Bel­grade, the cap­i­tal of Ser­bia and heartland of the bas­ket­ball in the Balkans for the Turk­ish Air­lines (THY) Euroleague Fi­nal Four. Last year’s cham­pion Fener­bahçe Doğuş will com­pete against Lithua­nia’s Zal­giris Kau­nas. CSKA Moscow will square off against Real Madrid in Bel­grade’s Stark Arena. The fi­nal matches will be held on Sun­day. The Fi­nal Four fea­tures each of the Euroleague’s last three cham­pi­ons, three-quar­ters of last year’s Fi­nal Four par­tic­i­pants and of course, Real Madrid that swept a sea­son­series against any other team in the field af­ter top­ping Zal­giris Kau­nas twice in reg­u­lar sea­son play. It will be a star-stud­ded oc­ca­sion with three past MVPs, two Rising Star award re­cip­i­ents and more than a dozen cur­rent or for­mer Al­lEuroleague Team mem­bers. To­day’s match against Zal­giris Kau­nas will mark the eleventh time Fener­bahçe squares off against Lithua­nian team. The Turk­ish side man­aged to se­cure seven wins out of their 10 pre­vi­ous games. Fener­bahçe kept a bal­anced of­fen­sive style this sea­son and main­tained an av­er­age and at times, im­proved pace, in all styles other than put­backs. Its Lithua­nian ri­val fa­vors a jump shoot­ing style. The Turk­ish team likes to sam­ple ev­ery of­fen­sive move avail­able with ver­sa­tile for­wards. The team counts on Jan Ve­sely, Luigi Datome and Nikola Kalinic again as the trio put on a strong per­for­mance against Lithua­nian side dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son. Fener­bahçe was also suc­cess­ful in some key ar­eas and scored 1.8 points per possession in the pick and roll and 1.47 points per spot-up possession.

The match will be also sorts of homecoming for Fener­bahçe’s Ser­bian coach Zeljko Obradovic. Obradovic may also be a record holder as a coach with most Euroleague ti­tle un­der his belt as a win would add to nine other Euroleague ti­tles he helped the teams he coached to win. Speak­ing at a press con­fer­ence in Bel­grade yes­ter­day, Obradovic said he was happy to fight for Euroleague ti­tle in his home coun­try Ser­bia. The vet­eran coach is also pleased to catch up with his for­mer prot& ea­cute; g& ea­cute; s who now run his three ri­vals in Fi­nal Four.

“I know how dif­fi­cult it is to reach the Fi­nal Four,” he added and praised “hard-work­ing” Sarunas Jasike­vi­cius. “I am not think­ing much about hav­ing the 10th Euroleague ti­tle. I be­lieve there will be a great at­mos­phere [at Stark Arena],” Obradovic said. Zal­giris’ for­ward Paulius Janku­nas is a main con­cern for Fener­bahçe coach. “We will fo­cus on stop­ping him,” he said. Speak­ing at the same press con­fer­ence, Jasike­vi­cius said it would be a tough game against “the last cham­pion” but they con­sider them­selves ac­com­plish­ing a great feat “by hav­ing a fi­nal against Obradovic.” Not­ing ever-chang­ing style of Zal­giris in “a match-by-match ap­proach,” Jasike­vi­cius said they had “a sur­prise in store for Fener­bahçe.”

It is the 15th Fi­nal Four for CSKA Moscow, which will fight for its eighth Euroleague ti­tle. It will be a dif­fi­cult feat to achieve as Real Madrid re­mains the most suc­cess­ful team in the league his­tory with nine ti­tles.

Jan Ve­sely

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