Many thanks to Fenerbahçe Ülker

We begin our writing by expressing our gratitude, because regardless of the team’s performance, Fenerbahçe has brought us along on its European journey. The journey ended in an unexpected fashion in the match with Siena.

Siena’s advancement was not a surprising development when the experience and past performance of the two teams is considered. But what we really weren’t expecting was Fener’s elimination in the second game. We saw how Siena resisted our team and forced the competition. We had anticipated a better level of performance at a home game. They didn’t go ahead even once at any time during the game. It would be wrong to only look at this one game and make an assessment on it. We must evaluate the two games at the same time. We were and self-assured and confident when we set out to play the second game with Siena, with only a 1–0 disadvantage. When the match started well, and Siena threw their first basket against Fener within the first two minutes, they had a nice advantage, which they kept for the rest of the game.   Solomon’s efforts in the second half brought the score to 36-37 but that was as close as Fenerbahçe Ülker got for the rest of the game. Siena’s reaction resulted in a 16-0 series.

We didn’t protect our advantage

One could say that Fenerbahçe missed the train with the first game. During that match, Siena spent a lot of effort to show their contempt of their competitors.  The host team was worried that Fener might repeat its performances in Rome, Partizan and Aris, by defeating the team on its own turf. Fener didn’t hold on to the 3 point advantage that was created toward the end of the 3rd quarter. The 21 times that the ball was fumbled were also a factor that prevented a win for us. Euroleague records show we lost the ball 21 times, while it also indicates that Siena stole the ball 22 times. I still haven’t figured out whom that 22nd ball was stolen from but the fact remains ball losses were a catalyst for their attacks and allowed them to make easy baskets. Those statistics, together with the unflagging energy of their defense and the cooperative play of the team were enough to galvanize them.   

Fans are like a 4th referee!

The superior size and the taller height of our team was reflected in the rebounds (37-31) but not in the number of points made. The performance of our young guys clearly showed in the way they could not prevent Siena from stealing the ball or pushing them into a corner and their facing back play, that they still have a long way to go. I think that particularly Semih and Ömer Aşık, who are both considered to have enough potential to play in the NBA, understood their deficiencies more clearly in the two matches. Siena is one of Europe’s roughest teams.  Once we had a player called Michael Scaerce. They used to comment about him, saying, “Even if he scratched his ear he would commit a foul.”Siena has a player named Stonerook. He makes everyone feel his presence during every moment of the game. He shoulders other players, hits for their knees and pushes them with his body. Stonerook and Siena defenseman Romain Sato are two key names.  If their Palamensana Auditorium was not filled to capacity for every match, and if they couldn’t read the audience so well, the Siena team couldn’t play as roughly. The audience isn’t just a team’s fifth player, it is also the fourth referee.  Abdi Ipekçi Auditorium wasn’t even full.  The spectators are supposed to make their presence known by their songs and cheers of encouragement.  But they weren’t in the game.  They only time the spectators really came alive and got into the game was when Terrance Kinsey made an unbelievable smash. Then Siena succeeded in pushing them out of the game again.

Solomon locked in

Fener has some weak points. In such a long marathon as this, they can become familiar to everyone. For example, Kristof Lavrinovic only got into the first five starting line-up two times.  The reason was that our team
Nedeni ise ekibimizin, dışarıya çıkıp, şut atabilen dört numaraları savunmakta ne kadar aciz kaldığından. Translators note: I m not sure what they are saying here…please check.
This is the result. Lavrinovic was the player who started out the best and Fenerbahçe never really took possession of the game. On the court, Solomon took on the African Sato, who is easily 10 cm taller, and halfway down the court Stonerook and some others immediately came running to help to Sato. Solomon never found his rhythm and he didn’t motivate the team.  When you think about the whole match, the team had nowhere to turn and was just like a ship without a captain.

Tanjevic deserves a blessing

You may criticize Coach Bogdan Tanjevic harshly but if you look at his past Euroleague performance, you can’t deny that he surpassed everyone’s expectations of what he could do for the club. He deserves applause for that. However, I was surprised the other day when I saw that Mirsad, who didn’t look prepared at all, had been given a better chance. Secondly, whatever Solomon’s performance has been, there is a saying in America: “Save the last dance for the person who brought you to the dance.” One big reason the Fenerbahçe got as far as it did, was Solomon. That means that the last dance belongs to him. In both Italy and at Abdi Ipekçi, during critical moments when Fener needed a shooter, Solomon was left sitting on the sidelines waiting to be asked for the last dance. In spite of everything, Fenerbahçe has taken a giant step into the Euroleague. By identifying our deficiencies and weakness and making correct evaluations, this step can be extended in the coming years.  When that happens, the yellow and navies will go to places that have hitherto only been reached by Efes.
I think Turkish basketball is ready for that journey.

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