Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul welcomed Royal Hali Gaziantep to the Ulker Sports Hall in the game that closed Round 2 of the new Turkish TBL season. It also proved to be the shock of the round as Gaziantep went into the lion’s den and defeated the Fenerbahce star studded roster to claim a big 66-70 road win.
The result means Royal Hali goes 2-0 at the start of the season, while Fener is left licking wounds and nursing a 1-1 record.
Fenerbahce vs. Royal Hali Gaziantep, 66-70
There is a certain amount of pressure on big spending Fenerbahce and in the early weeks of the season the team has played like its feeling the pressure at times. The first quarter in this encounter was sloppy, with play after play ending in nothing. It could have spelt early trouble for the hosts, but Gaziantep was in its own first quarter slump and the teams duked out a lifeless 10-10 tie at the first buzzer.
The levels picked up in the second quarter as the players started to get a feel for the hardwood. More buckets were sailing in and there was more creativity in the attacking areas from both teams. However, it was the hosts who managed to steal the initiative, winning the period 21-18 to open a three point cushion at the midway point. At the long break the scoreboard read 31-28 in favour of Fenerbahce.
The third stanza proved to be pivotal as Royal Hali Gaziantep grew in confidence, Jurij Zdovc’s halftime team talk obviously geeing the players up. The visitors looked impressive in the paint at both ends, storming the quarter 19-25 to turn the game around. After 30 minutes on the floor, Royal Hali led 50-53.
A three point cushion was hardly game defining, so Fenerbahce attacked during the opening minutes of the final frame. However, the away team had some defensive momentum and held firm, managing to pick their more illustrious hosts off at the other end. Gaziantep won the fourth quarter 16-17 to ensure a moral boosting early season win.
Paul Harris was a driving force for the winning effort, nailing 26 points and pulling 9 balls off the glass. Elsewhere in the Royal Hali line up Cory Higgins notched 25 points and 5 rebounds.
Gaziantep’s success was built on keeping Fener’s usual suspects like Bogdan Bogdanovic and Andrew Goudelock quiet. The defending TBL champions instead turned to Oguz Savas with 21 points and Nemanja Bjelica with 14 points and 11 boards, the only double-double of the game.