Group D side Besiktas are next up to be profiled.
Introduction: After ending the 37-year-old title drought and winning the EuroChallenge in a glorious season, Besiktas faced a very tough time in the summer. The club had a financial crisis mostly because of the irresponsible spending of the football department. The team lost its most important sponsor, Milangaz, and the future hadn’t looked bright for the upcoming season for a while. Coach Ergin Ataman left the club after the board failed to create enough budget to be successful in Euroleague, and most of the important players, such as Carlos Arroyo, David Hawkins, and Pops Mensah-Bonsu followed his path.
Then the club agreed to terms with the coach Erman Kunter from Cholet Basket. This move changed the way the team was heading during the entire summer. Most of the Turkish players decided to stay with the team, and the core was strengthened with Tutku Acik from Galatasaray Medical Park. Energetic guys like Patrick Christopher and Randal Falker, who were also coached by Erman Kunter before, joined the team alongside talented big man Damir Markota and versatile forward Vladimir Dasic.
Besiktas also grabbed Curtis Jerrells and Gasper Vidmar who couldn’t find a place in Simone Pianigiani’s plans in Fenerbahce Ulker.
Coach: Erman Kunter returns to his homeland after a successful career in France. He won the Semaine d’As in 2008, French league title and Super Cup in 2010 with Cholet Basket. He is a master in coaching underdogs and lifting them to a higher level than expected. Besiktas is not different in this case. The resources are limited. Kunter is going to face a tough challenge, but his background shows that he is the right man for the job.
Key Player: It is hard to highlight a specific player as the team lacks a true on-court leader. But the preseason games and the early stages of the Turkish Cup have shown that Patrick Christopher is capable of doing everything. He will fill in various areas in the stats sheet throughout the season. Even though he is not a go-to-guy in the offense, he will undoubtedly be the most efficient and important player in coach Kunter’s system.
Breakout Player: Gasper Vidmar could never get the pieces together in his Fenerbahce Ulker career. In his early years in Turkey, he had to share his minutes with Omer Asik and Semih Erden, who would become NBA players eventually. He had a season ending injury when he started to show signs of promise.
He is still 25. He’ll be playing in a team where he’s needed. He will have plenty of minutes to make an impact. This season could finally be the one that Vidmar shows he’s worthy of the trust he’s given.
Furthermore, the 17-year-old point guard Kartal Ozmizrak showed a great deal of potential in the finals of Turkish Basketball League last summer. If he’s given a chance, it might be a breakthrough year for him.
Biggest Euroleague Moment: Besiktas will make its first appearance in the greatest stage of the European basketball. The victory in EuroChallenge cannot be any measure of success in Europe, but the team will be competing for the third spot in Group D after the giants like CSKA and Barcelona.