The great performances of Slaughter, with 12 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 recoveries, and of Mirotic, with 18 points and 6 rebounds, key to the white squad’s triumph
A tough and difficult rival, but, at last, victory. Real Madrid, with a spectacular defense led by Marcus Slaughter, who ratcheted up the intensity on the floor, beat Fenerbahçe Ulker. In spite of having qualified for the Top 16, the team led by Pablo Laso fought out a victory that maintains its position of supremacy as the lone leader of the group. The white team was able to beat back Pianigiani’s men with a superb performance by Mirotic, who was the offence point of reference together with the American centre and Felipe Reyes. Although they had a hard time getting into the game and Bogdanovic caused them some difficulty, they were able to turn the scoreboard around, which didn’t favor them until the end of the third quarter. In the second half, the white squad scored 41 against 22 for the Turkish team.
The first objective was already fulfilled. Real Madrid came out on the basketball court having already classified for the Top 16, but that didn’t put them off track from their other goal: victory to consolidate their sole leadership of their group. The team coached by Pablo Laso, facing the second best in the ‘death group,’ came out a bit out of sorts, without finding their missing spark. A hyperactive Batiste and Bogdanovic’s successful three-pointers became the worst news for Real Madrid in that period. But the white team began to rack up points without any concessions to the Turks. Carlos Suárez played his minutes very well, contributing with four points, two rebounds, and a steal, and Mirotic and Llull did so as well, each adding four points for the team and leaving things at 16-19 after the first ten minutes.
In the second quarter, Fenerbahçe continued to look more comfortable on the floor. During the first moves, Bogdanovic and Anderson scored easily and widened the distance. They achieved their greatest lead, by 8, at this point, which Carroll reduced with a three-pointer, the only one until then by a blundering Real Madrid from that distance. In fact, at the break they were 1 for 10, as against 5 for 10 by the Turks. The best sparkle at that time was left by Marcus Slaughter, playing intensely under the hoop, following each rebound, scoring accurately, and in perfect synchronization with Draper. And he also responded to Mirotic’s expectations, who continued to score and by this point was his team’s top scorer, with eight points, the most valued player. The white team’s efforts, dominating the rebounds and defending well against Pianigiani’s men, were completely futile from the free-throw line, where the lack of success, with only a 50% success rate, did them a lot of damage. In spite of the obstacles, Laso’s men continued forward and ended up the half like they did the first quarter: three points behind, 36-39.
With the closest score thus far on the scoreboard, both teams came out determined to tip the balance. A three-pointer from Bogdanovic was answered by another from Mirotic. And then followed by another by Rudy, which tied it up at 43. The forces were very equally balanced. And the performances by Slaughter, who continued to play an immense role on defense, by Suárez, and, of course, Mirotic, were also indispensable in those minutes in order to maintain that balance. It was precisely the Spanish-Montenegran and the American who put the team ahead before the quarter ended. Mirotic assisted his teammate, who hung from the hoop and put the game at 54-52.
The white team came out in the last quarter ready to give it everything they’ve got. Carroll started it off. And Mirotic continued. A 12-0 scoring streak in favor of the home team, fostered by good leadership by Rodríguez, marked the extinction of the Turkish team’s possibilities. Real Madrid pulled ahead 64-52. Sato broke the streak, but it was only a momentary illusion. With their attack bogged down and unable to put the brakes on the white team’s charge, to which Felipe Reyes made an important contribution, the Turks weren’t able to do anything to avoid what was coming down on them: 77-61. A statistic: the Turkish team scored 22 in the last two quarters, while Laso’s men made 41.
REAL MADRID 77 (16+20+18+23): Llull (6), R. Fernández (7), Suárez (4), Mirotic (18), Begic (2) –initial five-, Rodríguez (6), Draper (2), Carroll (10), Pocius (-), Reyes (10), Hettsheimeir (-), Slaughter (12).
FENERBAHCE ULKER ISTANBUL 61 (19+20+13+9): McCalebb (10), Sato (6), Bogdanovic (18), Batiste (7), Preldzic (10) –initial five- Peker, Ermis, Onan, Bremer, Andersen (6), Karaman (4), and Savas.