Group A powerhouse Fenerbahce are next up as the fourth team to be previewed.
Introduction: With the squad they have on paper, Fenerbahce could be early contenders for a spot at the Final Four in London. New coach Simone Pianigiani, formally of Montepaschi Siena has brought Bo McCalebb with him along with David Andersen. Former Panathinaikos stars Mike Batiste and Romain Sato also arrive to the team.
High scoring Croatian Bojan Bogdanovic and Turkish international Omer Onan and Semir Preldzic return to the squad which hasn’t reached the playoffs since the 2007/08 Euroleague season. It’s a team full of offensive threats both inside and outside and coach Pianigiani wants to make an impact early.
Coach: Fresh off guiding Italy to back-to-back Eurobasket appearances, Simone Pianigiani arrives from Montepaschi Siena where he spent six seasons at the club, five of them in the Euroleague. He led Siena to the Euroleague Final Four in 2008 and 2011 and has won five Italian league crowns.
He looks to move his success rate to the Asian side of Istanbul, and with the squad he has assembled, he has a good chance.
Key Player: It’s hard to look past Bo McCalebb, especially as he has had a summer to get used to the city, the facilities and the overall culture which can help a player’s confidence.
McCalebb normally needs no introduction to the regular Euroleague fan, but he is lightening quick guard who can get to the hoop at ease and get team-mates involved, is an underrated shooter although it isn’t his preference. A lot of Pianigiani’s plays will be revolving around the 6’1 Macedonian international and look for McCalebb to score freqently.
Breakout Player: It’s extremely hard to single out a breakthrough performer for Fenerbahce, given the experience on the roster. A lot of scorers, a lot of defensive presences on the court. Fenerbahce have two young prospects that will be joining the roster, albeit on the bench in Maxim Mutaf and James Birsan, they will look to get a few minutes during the season when the games are long decided.
Biggest Euroleague Moment: Fenerbahce’s record in the Euroleague over the years hasn’t been great. In 11 seasons in Europe’s premier basketball league, they have only reached the quarter-final playoffs twice and been a Top 16 team seven. So moments have been few and far between. However, with a vastly improved roster this year, they will look to go far.