An interview with Ömer Onan

Fenerbahçe Ülker’s experienced star player is grateful to be alive to see his team win its second championship in a row. Ömer Onan said, “Our players know how to win a big game, no matter how difficult.”

Can you give us your assessment of the season?

After we won our centennial year championship with Aydın Örs, there was a change in the coaching staff at the beginning of the season. It took a while for us to adjust to the new coach’s system. With extra games we had in the Euroleague during the season, and our regular games in the Turkish League, we played a lot of matches and had 8 or 9 losses. But later on we did very well.  Our advance into the final 8 of the Euroleague was a colossal achievement. When we got to the end of the season, we had a lot of high level matches and our competitive players won the championship.

Coach Tanjeviç’s continuous changing of the players during the beginning of the season made things a bit difficult. Later on how did you deal with this difficulty?

We discussed these things with him. If you don’t know how many minutes you are going to play, it makes you uncomfortable, you get stressed wondering whether you will be playing or not.  You were given a certain amount of minutes, you want those minutes, and the coach wants all 12 of the twelve players to have a chance to play.  Of course we had this problem for 4 or 5 games but we didn’t let it show. That’s really the important thing. There are some players who really show their frustration and this is bad for the team and makes it harder to concentrate on what you have to do. But even if our players are frustrated, they forget about everything and put all they have into their play to accomplish the job. Not one of us quarreled with the coach or became frustrated enough to cause harm to the team. Problems that we had with the system can always be solved by discussing them and we always talk. If you consider the experienced players on the team such as Mrsiç, Solomon, Mirsad, Oğuz and I, we are players who couldn’t stand to give the championship away to another team; even if we were champions 10 times over, we would still go for the 11th! When Tanjeviç explained his system to us, he said, “In order to prepare young players I may not give experienced players as much time in each match, but when it gets down to the target matches, I will play you more often.” In the play-offs that’s what he did, and we got more time on the court.

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