Fener, Beşiktaş desperately seek maiden wins
Fenerbahçe Ülker forward Romain Sato (top) drives to the basket during his team’s defeat to Montepaschi while Beşiktaş guard Daniel Ewing (R) tries to dribble past Olympiacos’ Vassilis Spanoulis in a Euroleague clash. AA photoTwo Turkish teams yet to clinch their first Turkish Airlines Euroleague Top 16 wins will try to break their jinx tonight, as Fenerbahçe Ülker visits Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv and Beşiktaş visits Caja Laboral Vitoria.
The two Istanbul teams are both pitted in the Group F of the top level European club competition, and both of them lost their first two matches.
Fenerbahçe Ülker suffered defeats to Barcelona Regal and Montepaschi Siena in its first two games to make a poor start to the competition, which it started as a serious contender. Coach Simone Pianigiani believes that it is now the time for his team to start winning games.
“We play against one of the top teams in the Euroleague who are in the same situation as us without any wins in the Top 16,” the Italian coach said. “However they arrived to this position by completing the first round in the first position. At home they always put something special forward. I don’t know how many years it has been since they lost two games in a row.”
Pianigiani acknowledged that the game would be tough.
“It will be a mentally difficult game,” he added. “This is for us the first step to approach the game after some losses we lost our confidence in the last two games. We have to keep our heads high and approach this game mentally because the goal one more time when we play on the road will be to try to stay in the game and play until the end. This will be our reaction starting from defense.”
The Israelis lost a game that went to the wire by one point against Caja Laboral last week. Fenerbahçe’s road record is even worse, since the club has lost five straight away games, but it will be encouraged with Maccabi’s two defeats in its last four home games in the competition.
Fenerbahçe’s top weapons will be forward Emir Preldzic and point guard Bo McCalebb.
Maccabi boasts perhaps the most-balanced attack in the league with four players averaging double figures in points and a fifth with 9.8 point per game.
Eagles in Spain
For Euroleague debutant Beşiktaş, even advancing to the Top 16 stage is an achievement, but the Turkish champion will still try to do its best to challenge red hot Caja Laboral.
Caja is on a five-game winning streak and tied with Montepaschi Siena and BC Khimki Moscow Region atop Group F. Beşiktaş, along with Maccabi and Fenerbahçe, is tied for sixth place at 0-2.
Beşiktaş will also try to end a three-game losing streak in away games but playing against Caja, which has been unstoppable since coach Zan Tabak’s arrival, will be tough.
Tabak says that his team will not take the win for granted, though.
“After starting well with two wins it is important to keep this pace at home,” Tabak said. “By name, Beşiktaş might not be as big as Euroleague classics like Maccabi or Olympiacos but with their backcourt of three good young American players[Curtis Jerrells, Daniel Ewing and Patrick Christopher], lots of individual skills and their ability to improvise they will be very difficult to guard.”