Beşiktaş out to cap 2012 a high note
Beşiktaş’s Damir Markota (L) tries to dribble with the ball during a Turkish Airlines Euroleague game against Lietuvos Rytas in the regular season. The Black Eagles host Russia’s BC Khimki in its first Top 16 game tonight. AA photoBeşiktaş hosts BC Khimki tonight in its first game in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Top 16 stage.
The Turkish champion managed to advance to the Top 16 stage in its first season at the top-level club competition in European basketball. The Istanbul club beat the odds with a modest squad, formed through financial struggles at the administration, and in a difficult regular season group, which also included FC Barcelona Regal and CSKA Moscow.
The Catalan and Russian giants took the top two spots respectively and Beşiktaş managed to get the third spot behind them.
Now, Beşiktaş will try to start the Top 16 stage, which consists of two groups of eight teams, on a high note when it hosts the Russians. The Black Eagles will have the backing of their enthusiastic fans, who have been among the most ambitious crowds in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague this season.
BC Khimki guard Vitaly Fridzon said the Russians are aware of the intimidating atmosphere at the Abdi İpekçi Arena in Istanbul.
“Of course, it’s not an easy thing to play against Beşiktaş on the road, where our opponent will have fantastic support,” the 27-year-old was quoted as saying on the Euroleague website. “But we are ready.
“BC Khimki is a team with fighting spirit and I suppose we have all the chances for a successful performance in the Top 16. After getting a little break right now, we have power and the desire to play.”
New kid in town
Beşiktaş boosted its squad with the signing of guard Daniel Ewing earlier this month, hoping to give a helping hand to Curtis Jerrells, who carried the team on his shoulders in the regular season.
Jerrells averaged 14.6 points and is in the Top 20 in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague top scorers’ list.
With his Euroleague experience, Ewing will give a hand to Jerrells. Ewing played in the Euroleague with BC Khimki during the 2007-08 season. He teamed with Fridzon as the team’s starting backcourt and helped the team win the Russian Cup that season.
While it is a start to a new stage for Beşiktaş, tonight’s match will also mean the end of the year 2012, the club’s most successful season ever, for Beşiktaş.
During the year, Beşiktaş not only won the Turkish league title for the first time in almost four decades, but it also clinched the Eurochallenge Cup, the third tier continental trophy, Turkish Cup and Presidential Cup, all for the first time in its history, in the calendar year.
“Our opponent is a good squad, and it’s always hard to play in Turkey,” BC Khimki coach Rimas Kurtinaitis said. “But now we are riding a good wave, everyone is healthy and ready to fight for victory.”
In other matches in the Group F, Caja Laboral will host Olympiacos and Montepaschi Siena takes on Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv.
In the Group E, Alba Berlin meets Real Madrid and Unicaja Malaga plays against Brose Baskets also tonight.