Credit: Tolga Adanali/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images
Credit Tolga Adanali/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

That's about time to call an exorcist into the gym, as we say in Lithuania. Fenerbahce BEKO Istanbul need some outside powers to stop that frustrating streak in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague

Player of the Game
Moustapha  Fall
Moustapha Fall
Points 10
Accuracy 5-6
Rebounds 9
Assists 1

You wouldn't dream it even in your worst nightmares.

Fenerbahce were up by 5 with 38 seconds to play at OAKA (87-82). But after crazy series of events, including two unsportsmanlike fouls in 8 seconds, Panathinaikos finished the game with a 9-0 run and stole the victory (87-91).

Fener were up by 3 with 42 seconds to play in Madrid (69-66) but didn't stay in front after unlucky foul fighting for the offensive rebound (69-70).

Against Barcelona (74-76) and Olympiacos (65-67), Fener were buried by two top-notch game-winners of Nikola Mirotic and Kostas Sloukas.

Four of five Fenerbahce losses came up with less than 4 points. Was it only the lack of luck or something more? BasketNews looks at the frustrating Fenerbahce streak from a numbers perspective.

Unlucky Booker

What's interesting is that you could find Devin Booker in the spotlight in almost every unfortunate situation.

He was the one who made crucial fouls in Athens and Madrid. At OAKA, he made this NFL play and got an unsportsmanlike foul with 10 seconds to play and Fener being up by 1.

In Madrid, with Fener up by 1 and 10 seconds to play, Booker was fighting for an offensive rebound too aggressively and hit Vincent Poirier. Referees called a foul and sent Poirier to the free-throw line. The French big sank both to win the game for Real.

Booker also guarded that improbable Nikola Mirotic game-winner, but he gave his best forcing Miro to shoot a very tough off-balance layup.

Coach Djordjevic didn't use Booker in the fourth quarter against Olympiacos. Although Booker is the third-best scorer on the Fenerbahce roster (8.7 PPG), he averages only 1.2 points in the 4th, and his efficiency drops significantly in crunch time.

Critical 4th quarter change

Devin Booker

Devin   Booker
Team: Fenerbahce Istanbul
Position: C
Age: 30
Height: 205 cm
Weight: 113 kg
Birth place: United States of America

Few radical changes followed all four painful Fenerbahce losses.

For instance, three of four last Barcelona possessions were followed by fouls that sent them to the free-throw line.

Even before the unsportsmanlike fouls party at OAKA, Vesely also fouled Nemanja Nedovic in a situation where Panathinaikos didn't even threaten the basket. That's when Panathinaikos reduced the margin to three points, and the rest is history.

Booker's foul against Poirier in Madrid shows that Fenerbahce players have to be smarter when the game is on the line. It just cost them too many easy points.

Fenerbahce allow 7.3 free-throw attempts in the 4th quarter, which is the second-worst record in the EuroLeague. In comparison, Fenerbahce attempts only 3.6 free throws in the last 10 minutes.

"It's not the way to finish the game. We should have finished it differently, and that's when experience comes in, and that's when you don't do the stuff you must do on the floor," Fenerbahce head coach Sasa Djordjevic said after a loss in Athens. "If referees challenge it, and they call a foul, an unsportsmanlike foul, I think the third, which was the fifth of Guduric, you have had to make that foul differently."

"It's difficult to teach that because, in those situations, you have to bring that in your bag as a player and to understand, with individual tactics, to finish games like this," Djordjevic added.

The late-game failures are followed by another significant change.

Per, Fenerbahce are one of the worst defending teams in the 4th quarter. They allow 21 points in the last 10 minutes, which is good enough for the 13th place in the defensive rating (118.5).

That's a radical change compared to their defensive presence in the first three quarters. Fenerbahce have the best defensive rating in all EuroLeague, per (98.2). For instance, they allow only 18 points per quarter in the first 30 minutes of the game.

In the first three quarters, Fenerbahce opponents shoot 26.7% from the three-point line (2nd best record) and 50.9% from 2-point range (9th best). But in crunch time, Fener allow them to shoot 31.3% on three-pointers (8th in the EuroLeague) and 53.6% on two-pointers (10th). Also, free throws do significant damage too.

Offensive struggles

Patience and intelligent plays are required on both ends of the floor.

Fenerbahce could have decided the game with their shots on three of four occasions, but they didn't find luck on the offensive end.

Against Olympiacos, Pierria Henry took an off-balance pull-up, but he missed it. Henry had to take another difficult shot in Madrid after a chaotic possession. His forced three-pointer hit the rim, and Booker was called for an offensive foul against Poirier.

Henry can't find his rhythm shooting the ball so far. He's averaging 6 points per game and shoots 33.3% both from 2-point and 3-point range.

"In the decisive plays of the game, we didn't have a clear head we needed to finish it in a way that we would have deserved," Djordjevic said after the loss in Madrid.

Another Fenerbahce playmaker Nando De Colo isn't as aggressive in the crunch time as before.

It seems like he has a reduced role under coach Sasa Djordjevic so far. For example, this year, he's playing close to 5 minutes in the 4th quarter and averaging 2.6 points on 1.6 field goal attempts.

Last season he averaged 4.3 points on three field-goal attempts and played more than 7 minutes in the fourth quarter.

He was the 11th best scorer in the fourth quarters in the EuroLeague. The French veteran made this list on 51.3% shooting. Compared to the last season, his usage rate dropped from 29% to 25.4%.

Instead of taking decisive shots, De Colo looked for a pass first. He had two very risky deliveries for Vesely, with one ending up as a mistake in crunch time at OAKA. The other was deflected but accidentally taken over by Devin Booker before his tremendous dunk.

"Also, I know the lob pass Nando to [Vesely] was not the right decision to take. He is our most experienced player, but those are things we have to live with," Djordjevic emphasized one of the crucial De Colo's plays in Athens.

In crucial moments, Fenerbahce have to find their go-to guys to close the games.

But basketball is not only about sophisticated numbers and facts. Human factor and luck also makes this game so unpredictable. Fenerbahce could have easily been a 5-2 team instead of 2-5.

Maybe they're missing some pieces, but there's one thing that will help Fenerbahce to return on a winning path sooner than later. The fighting spirit.

"It's a matter of keeping some things we did like people fighting, and I'm still proud of what we showed on the floor. We fought, but we have to be smarter and understand the game when it comes to the line," Djordjevic summarized Fenerbahce's situation after the recent thriller in Piraeus.

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Olympiacos Piraeus
Fenerbahce Istanbul
Field goals

Best players

Konstantinos  Sloukas
14 PTS
5/12 FG
1/1 FT
Jan  Vesely
14 PTS
5/14 FG
4/4 FT
Moustapha  Fall
Jan  Vesely
Konstantinos  Sloukas
5 As
2 TO
24 MIN
Marko  Guduric
4 As
1 TO
22 MIN
Moustapha  Fall
21 EFF
83% 2P%
- 3P%
Jan  Vesely
16 EFF
42% 2P%
0% 3P%