April 15, 2023
EuroLeague Final Four: Fenerbahçe and CBK Mersin to meet in all-Turkish final
One favorite barely advanced, and another got blown out at home in two gripping semifinals
The ball got rolling on Friday in the EuroLeague Final Four, and Fenerbahçe and CBK Mersin advanced to Sunday’s final in the Czech Republic. Let’s recap what happened in each semifinal game to set up an all-Turkish final.
The third-place game and final will air at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. ET, respectively, on Sunday on the official EuroLeague YouTube channel. You can watch them live or on-demand for free.
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Fenerbahçe 77, Famila Schio 70
It wasn’t easy for the favorites to fend off the underdog from Italy, but ultimately Fenerbahçe made its second consecutive EuroLeague final by beating Famila Schio by seven points. The Turkish team didn’t take control until well into the second half, with the Italian squad applying heavy pressure for more than two quarters.
Fenerbahçe went up 11 points in the third quarter, and the lead stretched to as many as 13 points with a little over seven minutes left in the final stanza. Schio was able to cut the deficit to three late but only scored two more points after that to come up just short.
Fenerbahçe led Schio in pretty much every statistical category. It grabbed 11 more rebounds (with a 15-4 edge on the offensive glass), dished out four more assists, stole seven more possessions, and most importantly, only turned the ball over 12 times to Schio’s 21.
Fenerbahçe’s top players made their presence felt: Breanna Stewart led the team with 24 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks; Courtney Vandersloot had an 11-point, 11-assist double-double with five steals; and Emma Meesseman had 13 points, eight rebounds, five dimes and three steals.
In contrast, Famila Schio lacked a little bit of scoring punch, with only Jasmine Keys (19) and Marina Mabrey (11) getting into double digits. But Rhyne Howard (eight points, nine rebounds, four assists, two steals) and Astou Ndour-Fall (seven points, six rebounds) did all they could to try to get Schio its first-ever EuroLeague Final Four victory. Schio will get another chance in Sunday’s third-place game.
USK Praha 58, CBK Mersin 78
After Prague was named the host of the Final Four, USK Praha’s presence in the final was considered a near-lock … or so casual fans thought.
Instead, CBK Mersin demolished the hosts in the second semifinal, punching its ticket to the final. It was a relatively close affair until the middle of the third quarter, as CBK turned a four-point advantage with 6:14 remaining in the period into a 20-point lead with under a minute to go.
It’s hard to blame Praha’s loss on a single factor, but it must be said that injuries to Temi Fagbenle (who missed Friday’s game entirely) and Maria Conde (returning from injury) significantly limited the team’s rotation. Every Praha starter logged at least 29 minutes, with two of them playing 35 minutes and Alyssa Thomas and Brionna Jones playing the full 40 minutes. Only three players came off the bench, and just one played more than six minutes.
Even with Thomas (11 points, 12 rebounds and six assists) and Jones (14 points and 11 rebounds) putting up strong performances, Conde was far from great (six points, four rebounds and three assists), and Valériane Vukosavljević (15) was the only other player in double digits for Praha.
CBK ran the hosts off their own court with four players scoring at least 10 points, led by Tiffany Hayes with 19 in 31 minutes. Aleksandra Crvendakić, a mid-season addition from the Spanish club Avenida, got a 16-point, 12-rebound double-double. And Elizabeth Williams (16 points, nine rebounds and five blocks) and Chelsea Gray (10 points, nine assists, five steals and four rebounds) both fell just short of double-doubles themselves.
Another former Avenida member, CBK head coach Iñigo Martinez, can safely say he made the right decision to join CBK for the second half of the season, considering that his current team will now play for a EuroLeague championship against its archrival.