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Bogdan Bogdanovic scores 9 in OT, leads Fenerbahce to Euroleague Championship Game

Phoenix Suns draftee Bogdan Bogdanovic has ascended to the top of the Euroloeague, leading his team to the Championship game on Sunday.

Fenerbahce Istanbul has made to the Euroleague Championship after beating Laboral Kutxa in overtime, where Phoenix Suns draftee Bogdan Bogdanovic scored nine of his team's 16 points to seal the win.


Fenerbahce won 88-77 in a game they jumped out to a 13-0 lead but then coasted too long and had to play well just to force overtime. Laboral had a four point lead with 60 seconds to go but Gigi Datome made a big three and Fener tied it up. Then it was Bogdan time.

His team's leading scorer in the playoffs, at 16 per game, had scored only nine points in the first four quarters, but opened up in overtime to prompt a joke from his coach.

Zeljko Obradovic was joking during the press conference and Bogdan Bogdanovic was the victim of one of his jokes: "It was a plan to play like this in overtime. Especially Bogdanovic, he liked it a lot. He was sleeping during the game but he woke up in the overtime!"

At another point, Obradovic was a bit more pointed about Bogdanovic's 9 points in regulation.

"He slept," Obradovic said. "He finally woke up. But this is him. He has amazing character. I trust him, the team trusts him. But he must know that the game is 40 minutes - or as today, 45 minutes."

Bogdanovic's comments were at once bravado and an admission, as Fenerbahce was trying to make their first ever Euroleague Final.

"I don't think we were scared," he said. "But it would have been a pity if our great Euroleague season ended here. It was tough that we opened with 13-0, then they come right back and suddenly it is a tight game where every ball matters. Our fans helped. I personally never lost confidence, I believe in my shot, and the one that we needed most went in."

Former NBA player Jan Vesely summed up the feeling very well.

"It's my first Final Four win," he said. "I still don't believe we are in the final. I think it will hit me in the next couple of hours. We are all very happy, but now, we don't want to stop. We will fight on Sunday with all we got. This is already a huge success, but there is one game left to play."

The 23-year old Bogdanovic is part of a balanced attack with Fener, who made their first Euroleague final after being the best team in regular play and the best in the Top 16 round of play that produced the Final Four.

Fenerbahce will now play for the Championship on Sunday against CSKA Moscow, the former team of Sonny Weems by the way.

Soon after that, the Phoenix Suns will sit down with Bogdanovic to discuss coming over to the NBA for 2016-17 season. He has an affordable buyout, and would make more money in the US than he does in Europe. However, in Europe Bogdan is a rock star and one of the best players in the league while in the NBA he'd run the risk of spending a lot of time riding the bench.

I am sure he will get plenty of counseling from teammates Ekpe Udoh, Jan Vesely, Luigi Datome and Pero Antic, all of whom have had cups of coffee in the NBA. Udoh and Vesely were first round picks, while Datome and Antic were touted as rookies when they came over but ultimately ended up in Europe.

For comparison sake in the Euroleague setting, former Suns hopeful Mike James is a starting guard of Bogdan's underdog opponents, Laboral. James was Laboral's fourth leading scorer in the Top 16, and third leading scorer in the playoffs. James did not look like an NBA rotation player last year when he joined the Suns for summer league. James scored 6 points in the semi-final against Fener.

So is Bogdan an NBA-level talent?

I recently polled draftniks Jonathan Wasserman (Bleacher Report, Yahoo!) and Mike Schmitz (DraftExpress) who both said Bogdanovic would be a mid to late first rounder if he was in this year's draft. That doesn't mean he will be a star, or even a successful role player over here. With late firsts, you're lucky to get a long-term role player.

But if you're looking for the right profile of a successful wing in today's NBA, Bogdan's got it. He is a good outside shooter (40% threes on high volume), has ball-handling ability to get his own shot and set up teammates, has good solid fundamentals and a 6'11" wingspan.

Stay posted for an update after Sunday's championship game.