Bo McCalebb, David Andersen and coach Simone Piangiani are hosting their previous club, Siena, on Friday night as Fenerbahce look to copy the feat of the Miami Heat back in 2010.
The vastly improved roster were tipped to do well and even contend for a place in the Final Four in May, but the Turkish giants thus far have barely made it out of the regular season and are currently 0-1 in the Top 16 stage, en route to Friday’s tricky clash with Montepaschi Siena.
With the return of McCalebb, Andersen and Piangiani though, this could start a revival of sorts as the emotions look set to run high, whether they will be booed or not.
Back at the start of the 2010/11 NBA season, the first year of LeBron James’ playing career with Miami Heat, they were what most would call a healthy record at 11-8, but the critics were on the Heat’s back. The majority of their 11 wins were close-run affairs and the team were not playing to their full potential.
It was almost as if they were expecting Miami to finish 82-0. Literally.
Then, on a cold December night in Cleveland, James and the Heat made their first visit to the Quicken Loans Arena, LeBron’s first game there since leaving the Cavaliers. The fans booed and insulted him at every attempt. The Heat were verbally assaulted, but the south beach outfit came away with their most impressive win to date and it kick-started their season as they would reach the NBA Finals, as expected.
James scored 38 points, his season high at that point.
For Fenerbahce, this could be the awakening that they so desperately need as well. Overall this season, they are 5-6 in the Euroleague and it seems that the side based on the Asian side of Istanbul have not gelled as a team and are playing, at times, one-dimensional basketball.
Even the normally consistent and unplayable McCalebb is not hitting on all cylinders. In fact; the American turned FYROM international has been a shadow of his former self. He will be dresing up with a mission: to show Fenerbahce fans just what they can do, and that they will do it on a consistent basis.
Andersen and Piangiani are part of this as well, as they would like nothing more than for Fenerbahce to get their Top 16 campaign trail off with a win at the second attempt.
Montepaschi Siena’s record is a bit better than the Cleveland Cavaliers’ feat at that time in December. After dropping their first three games, the Italian champions won their next five to qualify for the Top 16. They chalked up a victory against Maccabi Electra in that stretch as well.
Italy’s dominant league side seem to have Maccabi’s number this season – as they opened their Top 16 schedule with a win against the Israeli champions – wiping out a two-game losing streak and ending Maccabi’s winning spell of three games.
Thursday's Euroleague Top 16 games:
BC Khimki vs Barcelona
Maccabi Electra vs Caja Laboral
Brose Baskets vs Real Madrid
Anadolu Efes vs Panathinaikos
Zalgiris vs Unicaja Malaga
Alba Berlin vs CSKA Moscow
Fenerbahce vs Montepaschi Siena
Olympiacos vs Besiktas