Tribute to the Euroleague Champs: Nikola Kalinic
Having your best performances in the most important games is what separates good basketball players from the ultimate winners, and that is exactly what Nikola Kalinic of Fenerbahce Istanbul did at the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four. By simply playing two of the best games of his career at the Sinan Erdem Dome, Kalinic became Fenerbahce's x-factor on the way to the title. First, he posted career highs of 4 steals and a 24 performance index ranking in the semifinal against Real Madrid, finishing the game with 12 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists, as well. But he had plenty more to give Fenerbahce. In the championship game against Olympiacos Piraeus 48 hours later, Kalinic shined again with 17 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists for another career-best PIR of 24. He also matched a career high by making 4 of 6 three-point shots. Over those two games in Istanbul, his averages of 14.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 2.0 steals and 24 PIR dwarfed his 7.5 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.8 steals and 7.3 PIR in 31 games before that. Kalinic effectively tripled his overall output on the biggest stage of all: the Final Four. In the process he made sure that Fenerbahce won its first EuroLeague title, and he did so the right way – leading by example and helping his team in every facet of the game.