On March 06, 2020, Khimki Moscow and Fenerbahce Beko had one thing in their mind: Could they survive in playoff wars? Khimki Moscow, of course, was one step ahead of Fenerbahce Beko and all matches were at a premium for Turkish team.
In this season, Fenerbahce Beko has transferred a star player from last season’s champion team CSKA: Nando De Colo. As you know, Nicolo Melli, Marko Guduric, Bogdan Bogdanovic (from Euroleague champion cadre of Fenerbahce) and Brad Wannamaker went to NBA. Ekpe Udoh- James Nunnaly dual went to NBA,too but after one season, they went to China Basketball League. Also Derrick Williams, Leo Westermann and Berkay Candan have been added to player list at the beginning of the season.
On Khimki Moscow side, 10 new players have joined the team: Timofey Mozgov, Jeremy Evans, Stefan Jovic, Dairis Bertans, Devin Booker, Sergey Karasev, Evgeny Valiev, Andrey Desiatnikov and Chris Kramer. It was like a fresh start for the season. But there is an important situation for Timofey Mozgov. Until he plays on the court for Khimki, the one-year contract between them will not be fully activated.
At the middle of the season, Fenerbahce Beko has transferred new players to get higher performance at Euroleague and change the state of play: James Nunnaly and Malcolm Thomas. James Nunnaly is a bonus for the team in my opinion because he is from the Euroleague champion cadre and he knows the organization and Obradovic’s basketball style very well. Kostas Sloukas is still injured and couldn’t step on the court.
The first offense came from Fenerbahce because of Shved’s turnover after the jump ball. A mismatch occurred because of the defense choice after screen, Melih Mahmutoglu and Devin Booker matched but Mahmutoglu couldn’t take the advantage and the 3 points shot was unsuccessful. At that point, Fenerbahce still had the ball possession because of last touch of Khimki Moscow and after throw-in, at last 3.9 second, Joffrey Lauvergne made Fenerbahce’s first points. Vyacheslav Zaytsev’s penetration was unsuccessful and Lauvergne made points again, assist from Leo Westermann. But in return, Ahmet Duverioglu forgot his rival to defend after show- up and Booker made points in restricted area. Series was 2-6 with another Fenerbahce’s attack and those 6 points came from Lauvergne. For next play, Duverioglu compensated his defense mistake with a block to Alexy Shved. But Shved made 3 points at the end of the offense. Khimki Moscow catched up Fenerbahce and the score was 8-8 after Lauvergne’s turnover. Lauvergne took the wheel and made a reverse lay up against Shved’s 3 points. The first 10 points were made by Lauvergne for Fenerbahce Beko. Jan Vesely came from bench and made 3 points but Lauvergne couldn’t stop Thomas Robinson’s attack and making points. Khimki made 5-0 series with another 3 points shot of Janis Timma. After Khimki Moscow’s easy points in restricted area, the quarter finished with 26-18 score.
In second quarter, Ali Muhammed saw Vesely in the right position and passed the ball and Vesely finished. Anthony Gill tried to answer quickly but with good defense, Derrick Williams stopped him. Fenerbahce made a full court press but Nikola Kalinic made a foul because of his wrong timing. Jovic played double with Booker and Booker finished with a dunk. Jovic had 4 assists even he came from the bench. Bobby Dixon passed the ball to Kalinic who waited at 3 points line. Kalinic made a fake, penetrated and finished it with an amazing dunk. Shved continued to make forcing shots but Muhammed answered it with 3 points and a basket foul making him take it. In another Fenerbahce Beko attack, Shved stole the ball and penetrated inside the restricted area but Vesely blocked him. Vesely passed the ball to Kalinic but Kalinic made a turnover by double dribbling. Sergey Karasev contributed to the team by 3 points. Datome stole the ball but Fenerbahce Beko couldn’t use the advantage and Shved also made a good defense and blocked Williams when Williams attacked. Vesely, even he recovered from an injury, stole the ball in Khimki Moscow attack, finished the fast break with a beautiful dunk and Shved couldn’t catch for defense. Another steal came from De Colo but the attack was unsuccessful because Karasev stole the ball with a good defense. Muhammed penetrated inside, made points after a throw-in with 5 seconds for attack and showed that he was ready to play like before. Booker also made points against Malcolm and made him get a foul. Khimki Moscow made a full court press and it worked Shved made a hard but successful 3 points shot but for this quarter, Fenerbahce was ahead with points, reducing score gap (41-40).
In third quarter, Jerebko made 3 points but got an answer from Datome with draining. Obradovic made short players play after a substitution. Fenerbahce Beko used this organisation’s advantage, passed the ball quickly and Williams made a 3 points shot. But Timma saw Booker in the right position very well and Booker finished with a dunk, punishing Vesely’s slow defence. Jovic stole the ball when De Colo tried to pass the ball to Vesely and finished the attack with a 3 points shot. In another Khimki attack, Fenerbahce Beko defended very good and Khimki lost the ball’s control. Muhammed took the ball but the attack finished unfortunately with a back pass. Robinson made points twice in restricted area freely, punishing Fenerbahce’s bad defence. De Colo passed the ball to Williams in return, Williams played himself and made points with a good reverse and made rival take basket foul. Jerebko played against Datome and made his only successful 3 points shot in this match. Kalinic took 4th foul in this quarter. Shved didn’t give up his forcing but successfull 3 points shots. Melih answered him with a lay up. Booker was very effective inside (64-54).
Shved continued to shoot from 3 points line in fourth quarter and was successful. Jerebko also made points playing one-to-one. Fenerbahce tried to catch up with Kalinic’s 3 points. Booker played one-to-one with Vesely and finished the attack successfully. Jovic also was effective with 3 points shots. Williams tried 3 points shot and made it. With a good defense by double team, Vesely stole the ball and Bobby finished with a lay up. But Khimki Moscow was ahead with offensive rebounds and made points. Muhammed didn’t give up and made critical 3 points. The last points of the match came from Robinson and the final score was 82-68 with Khimki Moscow’s win.
Khimki Moscow dominated first, third and last quarters and got the average advantage. Because they were more effective on outside shots, chasing the ball and taking offensive rebounds. Fenerbahce Beko’s defence was too weak from time to time and Khimki Moscow made easy points. Shved, Booker, Jovic and especially Jerebko were the dominant players on Khimki Moscow side. Vesely, Lauvergne and Muhammed tried to catch up, sometimes Kalinic, Williams and De Colo joined them but it wasn’t enough because of rebound, box-out, defence and timing failures. When Khimki Moscow pressed with double team, the help didn’t come and De Colo himself had 4 turnovers. Those were enough to lose the match. If Fenerbahce Beko players don’t take lessons from those matches, it’s very hard to hold on to playoff series and get themselves to the Final Four.