The importance of game 1:
PAO’s home record (14-1) and Fener’s away record (7-8) would suggest that well the greens can and should go 2-0 at the end of 80 minutes (OT’s not included), when you add to this equation the fact that since Zoc left PAO, he hasn’t been able to win there, at the same breath we would have to say that PAO are struggling when playing against Zoc in Turkey.
On Paper: 3-2 PAO
PAO is a great home team that have struggled on away games. And well simply for all that is mentioned above. Also just to get it out of the way, why five games because in every instant classic we want as much games as possible
It’s Zeljko Obradovic….in a playoff series……who has yet to be beaten in a playoff series since 2006 which in fact was the only one he’s lost – he’s unbeaten in a best of five series. Meaning he’s ready to go the distance, or simply to steal home court advantage which can make it 3-1 at the end.
How it will go down?
Game 1 here is the most important one, since PAO has the deeper roster they would have to bring Fener to the point in which they’d have to ask for a time out simply to catch a breather, “Zoc” should try and steal the first.
How will Fenerbache do it (Calathes and the three headed monster)?
It’s a battle of backcourts, first Fener must target Nick Calathes, he’s the floor general of the greens and without him it can make things a bit more complicated for Coach Xavi Pascual. But that alone will not be sufficient if Bobby Dixon, Kostas Sloukas and Bogdan Bogdanovic will not bring their A-game (yes Gigi everyone is waiting for you as well).
Chris Singleton, well he’s doing it all, he defends he’s taking down boards he stretches the floor which is exactly why he needs to get a special treatment. Besides that when playing with Bourousis and Mike James together they can form a three headed monster, with the last two having some unfinished business from Berlin 2016, which is exactly why Fener would have to put the emphasis on the first two, since it can cause a problem of spacing for Panathinaikos.
But above all it’s all about the hunger games, especially since it’s something that looked as if it was absent for them during some games. Safe to say that injuries that’ve became somewhat of plague for a few teams this year have definitely taken its toll on Fener as well, what we can say is that “Zoc” would try to take tempo down as much as he can.
How will Pao do it:
Coach Pascual would have to make a few game plans, with each of them addressing Fenerbache players both individually and as a unit. And well, controlling the rhythm wouldn’t hurt. Individually since Fener’s Frontcourt is not as deep as they would like it to be. It means that they would have to bring Ekpe Udoh to the point of exhaustion.
Ground the Czech Airlines, Jan Vesely and Udoh were rightfully nicknamed the “Twin-Towers” last year, and the Czech-copter must not be allowed to take off. One strategy is going full “hack a Czech” better known as get your points from the line or as “no easy baskets here”, on top of that Vesely has had some issues on D with off-balance situations- so we would like to see Singleton (penetrating) and Bourousis (post-up) going all Olivia Newton John on him (Let’s get physical- yes we’ve made that reference).
Moving on to Bogdan Bogdanovic, his absence during the season was very well felt and Fener struggled without him, dearly. So the greens would have to take him out, how you ask? Ball depravation, simply deny him as much as possible. Allowing open looks is unacceptable since the absence fire power (or the existence of light fire power) from the 1-2 positions (yes also Dixon) could prove to be simply too much.
As a unit, Fener showed consistency with not being able to defend two on two pick and roll situations from the top of the key, but that’s just the beginning since the greens would have to limit Fenerbache’s transition game and in some minutes even try to crash the boards, and try to break the shooter’s play every once in a while, the importance of perimeter lockdown on D and attacking on O with Rivers Feldeine is extremely crucial as much as attacking the paint.
OAKA at its finest, a few good years have passed since we saw OAKA in Full Frenzy mode, which can make one wonder how will Fener react with the Greens smelling, sensing and almost tasting a potential F4, for whom the sense of urgency will be greater- It took several minutes for OAKA to be sold out.
Correction: “Zoc’s” streak in playoff series is 17-1, as Arale Weisberg of Walla.co.il updates