On the back of Fenerbahce’s first ever EuroLeague title last weekend, Final Four MVP Ekpe Udoh has called his two years in the competition a special experience.
The 30-year-old came to Fenerbahce from the Los Angeles Clippers in July, 2015 and Udoh admits that the change of scenery, to get away from the States and experience different cultures transformed how he plays on the court with the help of legendary coach Zeljko Obradovic.
“It has been special, I would not trade it for anything, it is what I needed in my life and my career – to get out of my space, see something different and learn about different cultures, be able to travel the world and on the court find myself,” Udoh said.
“Finding that confidence to play the game and learn more about the game under Coach Obradovic. Just finding ways, man, finding ways to stand out. At the end of the day, it’s not always all about scoring and I was unable to do that defensive side of the game here, I think, unlike anybody.
“Coach has been great and I am still chasing my [Andrei] Kirilenko. He was a great defender, but I am bringing a new flavour to it, I guess, with the blocks, and the ability to switch on guards and being able to steal the ball for them. I have to keep that momentum going and, at the end of my career, be able to look back and see that I gave my all and did the best I could.”
Despite the incredible celebrations in Istanbul and the open top bus parade, Udoh and the team have not had time to let their EuroLeague victory settle as they returned to the Ulker Arena 72 hours later to compete in the Turkish Playoffs.
“I think it is something that I am going to feel when the season is done and I am on my flight home and I’m recapping it,” Udoh said.
“Right now, it is huge for the country and our fans, because they have waiting on this moment for so long, as you saw in the parade and last night at the [Turkish League Playoff] game when they raised the banner. They are having a good time, I can assure, but for me, we had to go right back to the Turkish League. We won it last year, now we are the defending champs and we have to be ready.”
Quotes by Javier Gancedo