Fener, Beşiktaş carry rivalry to Euroleague
Fenerbahçe Ülker and Beşiktaş will meet in a crucial Turkish Airlines Euroleague battle where the loser faces being left on the bottom of the Group F. Fenerbahçe Ülker has just one victory in the group while Beşiktaş has none. AA photo
Two Istanbul teams carry their domestic rivalry to the international stage tonight as Fenerbahçe Ülker meets Beşiktaş in an Istanbul derby in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague.
Fenerbahçe ranks seventh in Group F with a 1-5 record, with Beşiktaş right behind at 0-6. In other words, both teams are in a make-or-break situation, which adds even more anticipation to this huge showdown at Fenerbahçe’s Ülker Sports Arena.
The two teams have met twice earlier this season, with Fenerbahçe Ülker having beaten its opponent on both occasions.
“Apart from the league, we played Fenerbahçe Ülker in the Turkish Cup. After the Euroleague we will meet them in the league as well,” Beşiktaş coach Erman Kunter was quoted by Anatolia news agency. “That will make us meeting four times in a short space of time. We will try to win this time.”
“We lost against them twice, but the first 30 minutes were close in both meetings,” Kunter added. “We had problems in the last 10 minutes.”
Fenerbahçe Ülker is on a good domestic run, having won the Turkish Cup last week and leading the Beko Basketball League standings. However, the Yellow Canaries have yet to translate their domestic form into a good Euroleague run. The club’s basketball director Nedim Karakaş said that they want to turn things around with a win over Beşiktaş.
“This will be a good event for Turkish basketball,” Karakaş told Anatolia news agency. “We want to win at our home court. We still have a slight chance of making it to the playoffs. We have eight games ahead and we may win all of them.”
Beşiktaş needs to find the way to stop Bojan Bogdanovic, who has stepped up in the Top 16, averaging 21.2 points on 91.1% free throw accuracy. Bogdanovic will get a lot of help at both wings from experienced small forward Romain Sato, veteran off-guard Ömer Onan, three-point threat Uros Tripkovic and point forward Emir Preldzic, a critical player for coach Simone Pianigiani due to his versatility, size, and ball handling.
On the other side of the clash, Beşiktaş runs its offense through electric playmaker Curtis Jerrells, whose court vision, leadership and deep range are needed in this key showdown. Tutku Açık, back from injury, will offer experience and passing skills off the bench. Jerrells faces a critical matchup against lightning quick scoring guard Bo McCalebb, in one of the biggest keys to this game. Açık will try to use his know-how against a younger, more athletic Barış Ermiş.
Both teams have deep frontcourts but Fenerbahçe has an edge due to its biggest experience, mainly by three-time Euroleague champions David Andersen and Mike Batiste. Andersen, in good form recently, and Savaş must do their best to stop aggressive big man and former Fener player Gasper Vidmar, as his post skills and dunks are essential to Beşiktaş’s success.
Cemal Nalga and Randal Falker are physical players ready to stop Batiste and Oğuz Savaş while Cehver Özer and Barış Hersek can open the floor with their outside shots.
Besiktas needs to run its offense through Jerrells and Markota, spread the floor to find Vidmar down and or one-on-one chances for Christopher and Markota, use its frontcourt depth to avoid easy points in the paint and play under control as much as possible. Fenerbahce needs to run the floor to make the most out of McCalebb and Bogdanovic’s transition game, run its five-on-five offense through Preldzic and Bogdanovic and, above all, play with high intensity, pushed by a big home crowd.