Beşiktaş, Fener seek maiden top 16 wins
Beşiktaş forward Serhat Çetin drives for a basket during a Euroleague game. Beşiktaş meets Olympiacos tonight. AA photoBeşiktaş visits Olympiacos and Fenerbahçe Ülker hosts Montepaschi Siena tonight as the two Turkish teams are chasing their first wins in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Top 16 stage.
The two Istanbul teams have started the Group F with defeats, so both sides will be hoping to get a win to boost their hopes for the Top 8.
Just like every meeting between Turkish and Greek clubs, tonight’s match at the Peace and Friendship Stadium in Athens will be an intriguing battle. Two tough Group F teams coming off losses will clash for their first win in the Top 16. The Reds lost their Top 16 opener at Caja Laboral Vitoria last week, while Turkish champion Beşiktaş stumbled at home against BC Khimki Moscow Region. The game will be the first official encounter between Olympiacos and Besiktas.
Olympiacos had won seven in a row before losing last week and Coach Georgios Bartzokas will be eager for his team to start a new streak. The player that shoulders most of the load for the defending Euroleague champion is Vassilis Spanoulis, though the true secret to the Reds’ success has been depth. Ten players average more than 10 minutes per game, but only Spanoulis plays more than 23.
Euroleague debutant Beşiktaş’s surprising success has been a product of its backcourt, led by Curtis Jerrells in the midst of a fantastic season, scorer Patrick Christopher and recent addition Dan Ewing. Gasper Vidmar and Randal Falker have given Coach Ermal Kunter a strong defensive presence in the paint, which has anchored Beşiktaş as it became the lowest-scoring team to reach the Top 16.
The meeting between Fenerbahçe Ülker and Montepaschi Siena will be equally intriguing, if not more emotional.
Three Fenerbahçe Ülker players, including Romain Sato, Bo McCalebb and David Andersen, the latter two up to last season and head coach Simone Pianigiani became staple names in the European basketball scene with Montepaschi Siena and tonight they will meet their former sides.
“The game against Siena is going to be a very interesting one. We have the coach from the old team me and Bo so its going to be emotional playing with our old team which you got so many championships with,” Andersen said. “It’s going to be a test but I think you know we expect it so it’s going to be tough. I think that playing at home we have to defend the home court. We have to play our best and try to get our first win in the Top 16. It should be fun and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
It will be the first time these teams meet since 2010-11; Montepaschi boasts a 10-4 record against Fenerbahçe Ülker in the Euroleague.
With a loss to FC Barcelona Regal in the Top 16 opener, it is paramount for Fenerbahçe Ülker to nab its first win in Group F not to lose the pace of the top ranked teams. To do that, the Turkish team will have to stop especially Bobby Brown, who was voted Most Valuable Player of the Week twice this season.
The man in charge of stopping him will be superstar guard McCalebb in a stellar matchup at point guard, and Barış Ermiş off the bench.
Siena has other weapons in the backcourt such as Matt Janning and veteran Marco Carraretto, who will have to face signature players and key contributors for Fenerbahçe like Ömer Onan.