This was one of those ‘oh I’m here’ moments from Bogdan Bogdanovic and it didn’t get lost amid the rout Fenerbahce inflicted on Real Madrid, writes Emmet Ryan
It is not a stretch if you didn’t think Bogdan Bogdanovic was the best or most influential man in a Fenerbahce jersey tonight. There were plenty of candidates. Ekpe Udoh had an insatiable bloodlust while Nikola Kalinic was on a mission to recreate his Twitter avatar as often as possible. Bogdan however had those moments, those little bits in his game where you knew this had to be an important game because he was hitting grown ass man mode at the exact moments necessary to inflict maximum damage on Real Madrid.
Throughout the first two games of this series, viewers on Euroleague’s streams have endured the rather odd scenario where Bogdan was described as ‘only’ 23 by the commentators. While far from dyed in the wool veteran age this is a dude who signed his first pro contract almost six years ago, was All-ABA league two years ago, and was drafted two years ago as well. He’s at an age where we expect him to be doing cool stuff and kicking ass. It’s that he is actually getting the chance to do it that makes it exciting.
Tonight he was Mr More Than Ready. That steal and finish off Sergio Llull in the second quarter was just part of it. That’s the bit you see which makes you realise that this is a guy who is going to find ways to hurt any and everyone at this level. It’s the knock-on impact, the way Bobby Dixon has that look in his face during a timeout where he is completely calm because he knows no matter what he does there’s a kid at the two who can do all sorts of things to hurt the other team. It’s the type of impact that takes the pressure of Fener’s front court to play a hyper controlled game and instead decide to re-enact the final fight from Last of the Mohicans* over and over again until the visitors were given the sweet release of the final horn.
*I use this scene as the definition of a ‘You’re so fucked’ moment in cinema.
For all of Real’s problems this year, even allowing for the odd game they lost which was a touch one-sided, we hadn’t seen a beating like this. Here was a bunch of championship level players, guys who had come big at crunch time in Euroleague and EuroBasket on multiple occasions getting absolutely destroyed. The jerseys may have been the same from the semi final in Madrid last May but the game sure wasn’t. Back then it was Real dishing the hurt in the second frame to ensure a comfortable win over Fenerbahce. Of the key players from that day, the only one missing for Real was Marcus Slaughter who was admittedly a vital defensive . Fenerbahce have endured a heap of changes in the interim but every player seemed to have the anger that stems from a loss like that. It was bloody, it was merciless, and it re-enforced the message that Fenerbahce have real aspirations of being giants on this continent.
For the second year in a row, Fener take 2-0 lead to the home of the reigning Euroleague champions in the playoffs. Nobody has ever come back from 2-0 down in the playoffs, on this form it’s hard to see Fener suffering a reverse sweep.