The Euroleague Final Four kicked off this weekend, with the Sacramento Kings’ Bogdan Bogdanovic suiting up for Fenerbahçe Istanbul against Spanish giant Real Madrid (yes, that Real Madrid, but no, Ronaldo didn’t play). Fenerbahçe held off a late surge from Real Madrid to advance to the Euroleague Final this Sunday with an 84-75 win.
Bogdanovic had an off-game for his standards, scoring 14 points on 4/8 FG (2/5 3P), grabbing six rebounds, and dishing only one assist while coughing up six turnovers and committing four fouls. Relying on Sactown Royalty’s #fakenews writer Omer Khan for the game’s start time, the game started an hour before I tuned in, so I only caught the end of the third and the fourth quarter. Bogdanovic checked back at the six minute mark with Real Madrid chopping Fenerbahçe’s once sizeable lead into single digits. There’s plenty to discuss from that point on.
First, its important to note that we should talk about both Bogdanovic’s performance in particular as well as the big picture. Make no mistake about it, Bogdanovic struggled in this one. As Fenerbahçe’s #1 playmaker, Real Madrid brought the heat in their pick-and-roll coverages, both by having the defender fight over the screen to cover his three point shot, and with hard double teams right off the screen to get the ball out of his hands. Bogdanovic got stripped trying to shoot, went into the backcourt trying to escape a double team, and nearly overshot Luigi Datome on a pass to the corner, although Datome managed to save the pass and convert on an And-1.
It wasn’t all bad; Bogdanovic had a nice assist to Ekpe Udoh as the defender sagged back in pick-and-roll coverage. He also had a hockey assist for a Udoh dunk as the defense double-teamed, and Bogdan’s quick pass let his team play 4-on-3 against a scrambling defense. In the end, Fenerbahçe was playing with a lead, and Bogdanovic’s performance helped keep the lead in tact. Bogdanovic was also the primary defender on Sergio Llull, Real Madrid’s top player, harassing the Euroleague MVP with his long arms and intelligent positioning.
And that brings me to the big picture. Yes, it was an off-night for Bogdan. But it also shows how much responsibility he is shouldering as such a young player. Essentially, one of Europe’s top teams’ entire late game offense was to put the ball in the 24 year old’s hands a la James Harden, gave him a ballscreen, and lived with his decisions. This while asking him to check the opponent’s most dangerous player. With a shot to play for the most prestigious basketball club trophy outside of the NBA on the line.
The future is bright for Bogdan Bogdanovic. Hopefully he’ll rock the purple and black in October, but in the meantime, be sure to catch the Euroleague Final against Olympiacos, who had just eliminated Milos Teodosic’s CSKA Moscow today. Its televised on NBATV on Sunday at 11am (I double checked the time this time!).