Tag Archives: Ersan Ilyasova

The 75%: Sasha and the Machine Could Use an Efes. And a Point Guard.

By: Nick Gibson, Sam Meyerkopf and Rob Scott

(For the rest of April, we’ll be taking a look at the dozen teams who couldn’t make it from the Top 16 to the Final Four. They are: The 75%.)

Long known as Efes Pilsen, Istanbul’s co-chair entered the season with a little shake-up, adopting the name of the beers’s parent company, Anadolu Efes.  After ending said season with five straight losses, they sure could use an ironic pint.

Better make it a Michelob Ultra for Esteban.

Regular Season: Five wins, five losses, third place in Group C
Top 16: One win, five losses,  fourth (last) place in Group E
Sexiest Win: 73-84 at Partizan, October 20. First game of the year. A little early to be peaking, don’t you think?
Ugliest Loss: 104-84 at Real Madrid, November 17. Orange cones have played better defense.

(Thanks to Zurkark in the comments for showing us the error of our ways; losing 96-57 in Tel Aviv is about as un-sexy as it gets.)

Why It Broke

Nick: Well their point guard, Kerem Tunceri, delivered five negative PIR performances in 15 games; Ilyasova wasn’t ersane enough to average double digits during his eight-game stay (9.5 ppg…we round down around here); Tarence Kinsey’s injury derailed a perfectly good All-Euroleague campaign three weeks in; the button on Sasha Vujacic’s passing machine was apparently broken; and five of their six wins came against teams with losing records.  So not much.

Sam: For starters the chemistry on this team was putrid.  There was so much change in the offseason and some of the players added played decently individually, but made weak efforts in terms of making their teammates better.  This manifested as a talented team that only managed to score 70+ points five times in the Regular Season and not once in the Top 16, when it really mattered.  The team’s only reliable passer, Tunceri, hindered the team whenever he decided not to pass, shooting 32.7 percent on twos and 25 percent from beyond the arc.  This offense and team never seemed fluid or consistent.  Not just game to game, but possession to possession.

Rob: Where to begin? In his eight Regular Season games, Ilyasova showed only flashes of the Ersanity that would follow in Milwaukee, but the bigger loss was Tarence Kinsey. Injured between weeks three and four, they never replaced his perimeter defense, and by the time he returned in the Top 16, this team was out of its depth. It was too easy to score on a rotation that heavily featured all-no-defense candidates like Sasha Vujacic and Dusko Savanovic.

How They Fix It

Nick: Diamantidis, Spanoulis, Huertas, Teodosic, Shved, Navarro.  You cannot win in the Euroleague without elite—not good, but elite—guard play.  The EL’s a world where possessions are protected like firstborn children, and Tunceri/Vujacic proved an unfit parenting duo.  Tunceri is careful, but not dynamic.  Vujacic is careless…but also not dynamic.  Sinan Guler ate a hefty portion of minutes for the Beermen when Kinsey was hurt, but his best work is done in a bench role, where he can check in and irritate the other team’s chief perimeter threat for four or five minute stretches.  The pedigree is there down low even if the results were not, so Efes would be wise to fidget with the point before running down the rest of their to-sign list.

Sam: This group of Efes players didn’t play well together, but plugging in a ton of new players won’t exactly speed up the team chemistry process either.  Find a few core players from this group and keep them around for a little while.  You know, so maybe they can get comfortable playing together?  Then, find a point guard.  Oliver Lafayette seemed to play well once brought onboard, but the team didn’t win any more Euroleague games with him than they did without him. Figure out who your team’s quarterback(s) is (are) are going to be before the season starts; it’s usually a tough position to plug-in midseason.

Rob: It’s difficult to see what shouldn’t change. They already swapped in Elias Zouros for Ufuk Sarica in the coaching chair, but retained Sarica as an assistant. That seems like either an admission that Sarica wasn’t ready for leadership, or an unwillingness to pay off his contract. Why wait until they were eliminated? How can they win without keeping a coach for more than a year? So many questions. With a budget of circa €20 million, that’s nowhere near good enough.

Who They’ll Target

Nick: Just across town in Galatasaray is a man named Jamon Lucas who does something that might look very odd to Efes fans: he crouches down, spreads his arm, and guards people.  The Euroleague steals leader would be a welcome infusion of energy and muscle outside, but plucking him away from their rivals won’t be easy.  If Anton Ponkrashov is still sitting atop the CSKA scrap heap, he could also be a decent source of size and assists for the Turks should be care to leave Mother Russia.

Sam: They need to find some more we-first players, fewer me-first.  They should go after Spartak St. Petersburg’s Patrick Beverley with every Turkish Lira they have, but if they can’t bid high enough they should grab the undervalued Jayson Granger from a potentially relegated Estudiantes team in the ACB.  He’s only 22 and is already his team’s leader.

Rob: This is where it gets messy. Savanovic, Batista and Barac are all signed for another two years—not only did they add two bigs who didn’t play well together on their previous team, they gave them long term deals. They have an option for another year of Kinsey, which they should pick up, but after that, it’s back to square one. They took Kinsey from Fenerbahçe Ülker, and given the financial problems there, maybe they should buy something else from Ülker Arena if there’s a clearance sale. Luckily, The Machine came with a one-year return warranty, which they should definitely use.

Next up on The 75%: Bilbao Basket.

PODCAST #95: The Hosts, The Champs and The Turks. Will Group A Have Any Surprises?

Os Davis of BallinEurope stops by for part one of a four-headed podcast. We’re breaking down EuroBasket, one group at a time, starting in Panevezys with the incomparable Group A. It’s about to get real.

Press play above and you’ll get answers to these questions:

-Which three teams will advance to Vilnius?

-Does Great Britain stand a chance without Ben Gordon? Would he have made a difference at all?

-In a group filled with talent, will any one player rival the impact the Lithuanian crowd will have on this tourney’s outcome?

-And is FIBA letting the NBA ruin its tournaments with insurance no-shows like Marcin Gortat?

So while you’re here, you should go ahead and subscribe on iTunes for FREE or check out the rest of the podcasts right here.

Sinan Guler On Turkey Being the Favorites and the NBA Invading Istanbul

By: Nick Gibson / @euro_adventures

Last summer, Turkey turned the world on its ear with a long-armed defense that made the court seem narrower every trip down. On the wings of that defense was Sinan Guler, his active hands swiping at any leather which dared bounce in front of him. In Turkey’s game against China, Sinan set the tournament high for single-game steals with a ridiculous total of eight. Now that he’s signed a brand new deal with Anadolu Efes, Sinan’s doing everything he can to get right and get Turkey on the medal stand in Lithuania. After a short hiatus, he’s back with ELA, speaking his mind.

Euroleague Adventures: Efes just re-signed you for two more seasons. How does it feel to have the confidence of the coaches and management?

Sinan Guler: Well to be honest, the club and I have mutual happiness. It’s obvious that we have not been successful over the last year, but in the past three years I think I have become a valuable part of the team and I am happy with the support I get in return. What’s more important now is to use the experience in these last three years to establish a good season in the Euroleague with Anadolu Efes.

ELA: The club also retained the old reliable, Kerem Tunceri, but the other Kerem (Gonlum) might miss the whole year. You’ve now played with Gonlum both on the club and international level. How tough is it to replace a guy like that?

SG: I think the guy needs to be cloned to be replaced. I haven’t seen many players that have his dedication to hard work. He sure was the backbone of the team last year.  I think it’s very important for the club to keep the important national team level players. And I believe the duo that you named were the Turkish players that were getting the most playing time in the club.

ELA: A rough year for Efes in the Turkish League. What went wrong?

SG: Basically, everything. I think you can only be successful with a good team chemistry, and we seemed to lack that at times during the season.

ELA: You have a history with Besiktas, so what do you think of all the talk surrounding Deron Williams and Kobe Bryant? Does it make any sense to you?

SG: How can it make sense? It’s like a weird dream for a fan. It’s obviously great exposure for Besiktas and Turkish Basketball, first with Allen Iverson and now two of the elite players that are active in the NBA, it is going to be interesting. Two things that bother me are, first, what’s gonna happen when the lockout is over? And the second thing is, Besiktas is a club that’s known for its financial problems and of course Kobe and D-Will will get guaranteed contracts, but what will happen to the Turkish players on the team?

ELA: How would you feel if a big time NBA superstar arrived at Efes, especially if it were only a half season? Could the team ever embrace a guy who can’t legally commit to an entire year?

SG: I think at our level it would not be helpful. First you bring in a player that’s going to be a vital part of the team, then you will watch the guy leave with the whole chemistry and the system. It will be awkward from the beginning. So far we’ve signed players that will commit for the full year, except for Ersan, and I am hoping that he will be with the team for the full season.

ELA: Have you spoken with Ersan Ilyasova about the coming year with Efes? How about Sasha Vujacic?

SG: Ersan’s announcement was made yesterday, and I must say I am extremely happy with this signing. He will bring so much to the table. And I am excited to meet Sasha. This year our team is already making a lot of hype with the signings, and it seems like it’s going to be an exciting year.

ELA: Shifting to Eurobasket now: It will be tough to put up as solid a showing as you did in the World Championships last season. How do you keep from getting complacent?

SG: We are focused on the target. We are aware of what we accomplished and how we did it. We are definitely gonna use the good things we did on the court to succeed again. Our goal is to get to the finals, and reach for the Olympic berth.

ELA: Quite simply, should Turkey be the favorites?

SG: I don’t see a reason why we shouldn’t be favorites. In Poland, we lost to Greece in a nail biter to be knocked out in the quarters, if not we had chance at the medal again. At the Worlds, we dominated against the teams we played, maybe except for the Serbia game in the semis. If we show up with the same mentality and attitude, we can repeat that success.  I don’t want to leave out the fact that this year’s EuroBasket is more like a Gladiator match. It’s going to be a bloodbath from beginning to the end. My role is obvious, bringing spark and energy to the team. If I am able to play in Eurobasket, I will try to do the same both on offense and defense as much as I can.

ELA: Replacing Bogdan Tanjevic ain’t easy. Talk about Orhun Ene. How’s he doing so far? Is he the right guy for the job?

SG: Orhun Ene is a legendary player. He was a great example when he was playing, and he is an inspiration to observe as a coach. He has great communication with the players, and players respect him. It’s true replacing Tanjevic is not easy but Orhun Ene was working in his program for 6 years. I think this is a great advantage for him.

Sinan Guler is a shooting guard with Anadolu Efes and the Turkish National Team. And he’s an OG.

Dotted Line Up: SLUC Nancy Gets Their Batman

By: Nick Gibson / @euro_adventures

And the NBA exodus continues…

Ersan Ilyasova, Anadolu Efes via Milwaukee Bucks

A Euroleague Final Four here, a couple unspectacular Milwaukee years there, and suddenly Ersan is 27 years old. No longer the skillful lanky Turk who might turn into something nasty, he’s just the skillful lanky Turk who is what he is: a skillful lanky Turk. And that’s enough to make Efes take out their checkbook. Again.

Jordan Farmar, Maccabi Electra via New Jersey Nets

I honestly didn’t expect to see this. An established franchise coming off of a Final Four appearance, with a solid backcourt intact, stretching out to grab a rental. Maybe the lockout lasts the entire year, meaning Jordan’s services would as well, but maybe it doesn’t. Maybe Jon Scheyer glues his butt to the bench and lets Farmar poach his minutes and sap Maccabi of its chemistry right before boarding a plane for New Jersey when Billy Hunter tells him it’s all right to do so. Stick with your guys, Coach Blatt.

Nicolas Batum, SLUC Nancy via Portland Trailblazers

Now this one. This one makes sense. In a league which has notoriously made short work of weaker French clubs over the years, the newest sheep adds a lion to its arsenal. Walkover, no more.

Martynas Gecevicius, Olympiacos via Lietuvos Rytas

Olympiacos is quietly putting together a team that might surprise some people. The Reds wouldn’t have been able to sneak up on anyone in the past, but all the attention on financial woes and budget cuts has softened the once imposing shadow Olympiacos has cast over the league since 2008 or so. Gecevicius is a first class shooter who’s figured out how to play with Lietuvos Rytas.  Injuries and lack of positional depth may be the best thing that ever happened to Martynas, as necessity dictated his move over to the point for quarters or even games at a time. Spanoulis will gladly accept his dump offs, though, and his job will be much the same as it is on the national team: stroke jumpers.

D’Or Fischer, Bilbao Basket via Real Madrid

Thank goodness D’Or’s out of the world’s deepest frontcourt. It’s time for vintage, Maccabi-Electra-in-2009 D’Or Fischer. I desire these things for selfish reasons, of course, as he was the Euroleague’s second-leading shot blocker at 1.43 per game en route to a Final Four with Madrid last season. Not a bad season by any stretch, but a move to Basque country would inflate his numbers to frightening levels. Plus, after re-upping their vets (Aaron Jackson, Alex Mumbru, Josh Fisher) and signing another (Raul Lopez), it was about time for an impact acquisition.

PJ Tucker, Brose Baskets via Quebradillas Pirates (Puerto Rico)

Although he’s coming over from Puerto Rico, Tucker’s European teeth are sufficiently cut, sharpened, and ready to chomp down. He’s found success in Israel, Ukraine, Montenegro and Greece since 2003 and has put the ball in the bucket every stop of the way. He’ll give Bamberg the muscle they lost in Kyle Hines with an extra gear from the perimeter.

Acie Law, Partizan via Golden State Warriors

Law has a distinct edge over the last two Americans, Curtis Jerrells and Bo McCalebb, to wear his shoes, and that’s a preseason. Instead of being thrust into the fire several games into the season, Law gets to figure out where Dusan Kecman likes the ball;  how Vladimir Lucic likes to oop his alleys; how to call plays in a new language. If he can find a level of success somewhere between Jerrells’ and McCalebb’s, he’ll make some friends in Belgrade.

Federico Bolzonella, NGC Cantu via Copra Morpha Piacenza

Don’t let the 13.6 ppg get you too excited; it was in the third division. But don’t hate the player; hate the division.

Let’s get these boys all lined up:

Rank #colspan#Player #colspan#Team #colspan#He's here because... #colspan#Last DLU #colspan#
1Milos TeodosicCSKA MoscowThe EL's most clean cut franchise adds the Shooting Stoner to a backcourt that just lost a pair of legends in Trajan Langdon and JR Holden. Good thing Milos' brain doesn't process pressure.1
2Ioannis BourousisOlimpia MilanoCan't wait to see him play extended, consistent minutes. The most efficient big in Europe is about to get a big test.2
3Nicolas BatumSLUC NancyBatum alone can't make them a contender, but he can make them watchable. Now it's time to go get some help.4
4Marcelinho HuertasBarcelonaWith Marcelinho in the fold, arca's starting line up looks more like an All-Euroleague team.-
5Jaycee CarrollReal MadridThe two-time ACB scoring champ is ready for his EL debut. He won't be able to sneak up on the Spanish teams anymore, but everyone else: hide your kids, hide your wife.3
6Maciej LampeCaja LaboralEver since he vanished from Maccabi's roster two seasons ago, I've been itching to see him in the EL again. He's primed to explode.5
7Bojan BogdanovicFenerbahçe ÜlkerYou won't find many 26-year-olds as mature as Bojan (still just 22); now it's time to be assertive and create a role for yourself, big guy. As the star.6
8Ersan IlyasovaAnadolu EfesWelcome back to Turkey, my friend. It's not quite the Barcelona team you left a couple seasons ago, but it might be even more stacked.8
9Nenad KrsticCSKA MoscowBoston's trash is CSKA's treasure, as Krstic will add to Moscow's already stellar defensive front of Khryapa, Kaun and now Darjus Lavrinovic.7
10Stanko BaracAnadolu EfesA 24-year-old center who rarely makes mistakes and still has room to grow. Yeah, OK. We'll take him.9
11Esteban BatistaAnadolu EfesIndifferent to pace or pairings, Stevey Bats gets boards as well or better than the rest. If he and Barac can figure each other out, it's lights out for the rest of Turkey.10
12Malik HairstonOlimpia MilanoWith a frontcourt of Bourousis, Radosevic and Fotsis and Omar Cook at the point, all Milano needs to fall in with the elite is a dynamic small forward. Well, damn.11
13D'Or FischerBilbao BasketBizkaia. Bilbao. Basket. Blocks. All start with B's. Weird. But not really.13
14Sasha VujacicAnadolu Efes"Stop telling me and show me, Sasha."

15James GistFenebahçe ÜlkerHis enthusiasm is neither a front nor compensation for a lack of skill. Ülker's no Partizan, fan-wise, but they're getting there. A couple oops from Gist should accelerate that process.14
16Julius JenkinsBrose BasketsAfter two seasons, he's back in the Euroleague where he belongs. Excellent.-
17Dusko SavanovicAnadolu EfesDon't expect another All-EL season from Dusko, but be ready for some big shots in some big moments. And sweat. There will be plenty of sweat.15
18Ben WoodsideUnion OlimpijaPut Davis Bertans on the floor with Woodside and watch the shots fly up. Neither one's what I would call bashful.16
19Acie LawPartizanFor the first time in three seasons, Partizan can build a core around a PG rather than throwing one into the mix once the train's left the station.18
20Luka ZoricUnicajaThis Nesterovic clone was built for the index rating. Spain should be kind to him.17
21Martynas PociusReal MadridExcuse me, I've lost Real Madrid's weakness and was hoping you could help me find it.19
22Martynas GeceviciusOlympiacosThis Olympiacos team is going to look very un-Olymoiacos-y, but they'll have a lot less ego and only a slight shortage of talent and experience.21
23Drew NicholasOlimpia MilanoFormer EL scoring champ came to personify Panathinaikos' consistently unspectacular dominance. Italy's a different story, and we'll see if he still has some 20-point games left in the tank.20
24Kyle HinesOlympiacosThis bull sees Red.-
25Leon RadosevicOlimpia MilanoA bright star in a dimly lit organization last year, now he'll be a key piece in the Italian Renaissance.22
26Henry DomercantUnics KazanThe hefty hoister seems to be right at home in Russia. Now, after five Final Four-less EL seasons and in a starring role, he'll be hungrier than ever.23
27Sonny WeemsZalgirisProps to Sonny for making the leap, and props to Romanov for welcoming the Raptor with open arms. Think Weems has any idea what he's gotten himself into? Not a chance in Hell.24
28Nathan JawaiUnics KazanI hope restaurants stay open late in Kazan. Nathan strikes me as a fourth meal fiend.25
29Pat CalathesPanathinaikosDon't be surprised to see the Calathes Bros account for 40% of the starting line up next year. Pat's a perfect complement to Batiste's bruiser mentality.26
30PJ TuckerBrose BasketsCasey Jacobsen has somebody to do the dirty work for him while he wets things up from outside.28
31Jon ScheyerMaccabi ElectraWith his vision fully restored, the cultural adjustment is all that stands between him and an instant impact.27
32David LightyNGC CantúThe new kids on the block get proactive and pluck one of college's most well-rounded, pro ready swingmen. Me like.29
33Jordan FarmarMaccabi ElectraI'm not so easily enamored by the NBA names if they don't seem to fit.31
34Vlado IlievskiAnadolu EfesThe reigning EL minutes leader will fall into an important back up role behind fellow vet Kerem Tunceri, who's had a history of nagging injuries. Stay ready, Vlado.-
35Tarence KinseyAnadolu EfesAn extremely reliable an oft forgotten scoring threat. He just hangs around, ends up with 12 or 13.30
36Shawn JamesMaccabi ElectraWho needs Serge Ibaka when you've got Shawn James? If you think that's a stretch, check the stats. (OK, so maybe it's still a stretch.)33
37Matt HowardOlympiacosPrintezis, Kyle Hines, Matt Nielsen and he make up one of the tougher forward threesomes in the EL. Interesting change for team not usually renowned for its physicality.34
38Milko BjelicaCaja LaboralThe milk man delivers. Plain and simple.35
39Thomas HuertelCaja LaboralHuertas is out, Huertel is in. Let's hope Thomas can process all of this newly acquired pressure.39
40Milovan RakovicZalgirisTatted up, shaved down and ready to beat your ass.36
41Tremmell DardenUnicajaHe'll be ranked higher if Unicaja asks him to assume the role he had in France last year.-
42Gianluca BasileNGC CantuGather 'round, children. Listen to the old man's stories.-
43Kalin LucasOlympiacosOlympiacos fans won't have any patience with Kalin if he can't remember how to be an elite, efficient PG.-
44Robertas JavtokasZalgirisHe should sell his house and just move into an ice tub to be safe.32
45Marcus SlaughterBrose BasketsIf you watch this man play, his last name starts to makes sense.38
46Federico BolzonelloNGC CantuI guess Mr. Lighty needs somebody to get him the ball. Let's see how it pans out.43
47Marko CakarevicPartizanAfter extending super vets Bozic and Kecman (again), Partizan better hope Cakarevic can provide some bounce on the wing.41
48Aleksander CapinUnion OlimpijaHe needs to calm down and play smart. Neither is his specialty.-
49Raul LopezBilbao BasketThe ACB finalists finally have a new face on the bench, and it's one of experience. It's also one, however, of considerable age and injury.37
50Hakan DemirelFenerbahçe ÜlkerA toned down playmaker who can do a little bit of everything. Always nice to have those guys around.-
51Yogev OhayonMaccabi ElectraHe's playing behind a fat stack of PG's.-
52Ermal KuqoAnadolu EfesYou might not notice him when he's out there, but his opponents will feel him the next day. (Does that sound weird? Yeah, I think it sounds weird.)40
53Jaka BlazicUnion OlimpijaI wish my last name were Blazic. It would make introductions more fun.42

Turkey vs. USA: Can Turkey ride Tünceri’s lay-up all the way to Gold?

By: Freaknick/@euro_adventures

Earplugs. I’ve looked the FIBA rules up and down and haven’t spotted anything saying they cannot be worn during play. Considering the circumstances, Coach Krzyzewski should probably hand out 12 pair tonight. Be it baseball, football or basketball, I’ve never felt my ears ring quite like they did when Kerem Tünceri streaked to the hoop for the most wide-open lay-up he’s seen in his career, sending his country to the finals in the process. There were sirens, horns, high-pitched whistles and crying babies that, for health purposes, probably never should have been allowed in to begin with. At one point—make that three or four points—there was a scuffle that broke out immediately behind me between some angry Turks and one or two seemingly tame Serbian fans. Still, the Serb’s presence bothered the home crowd and they busted through the language barrier to let him know. Eventually, the security guards had to make a people barrier around the older Serbian gentleman, 8-men deep. It was quite entertaining and I must admit, I was rooting for some action. I spent 20% of the fourth quarter with my neck whipped around waiting for someone to get punched out. It never quite happened, but boy it would’ve if Novica Velickovic’s last-second oop hadn’t run into Semih Erden’s hand with :0.5 on the clock. I have no doubt that the Sinan Erdem Dome would’ve gone into full-blown riot mode, and we all might’ve been trampled.

When Turkey takes the floor against the United States tonight, it will be a sight to hear. You read that correctly. If you were one of the 15,000 who sat there as the chaos reverberated in the rafters, you know exactly what I mean.If you weren’t, tune in tonight and turn up the volume. Then turn it up some more. And make your baby cry and have your buddy whistle directly into left ear while banging a rain stick on the floor.

Good thing I’m not on the radio today or anything. All that ruckus could get distracting.

With the obvious exception of Lithuanians and Serbs, everyone was pulling for this final pairing. On one hand you’ve got the basketball factory led by one of the world’s top three basketball players—after Nikoloz Tskitishvili and Jerome James—and on the other it’s the home team with the home crowd in a city of 16 million that’s suddenly getting hyped for their country’s second sport. Team USA brings the tempo, Turkey specializes in getting teams out of their rhythm. Fire and ice. Going against Russia was a great way to prepare for what Bogdan Tanjevic is going to throw out, but Turkey’s slightly longer and a step quicker which can make life difficult for an American team that has struggled in the face of disciplined, zone defense.

“All we need to do is find someone in the middle and play within the gaps,” says Eric Gordon, and he’s exactly right, but finding a gap between four seven foot wingspans is not an easy task. Yesterday’s game against Lithuania gave us a peek of what USA’s capable of if they swing the ball quickly and work inside-out, but they’ll need to sustain that selflessness for 40 minutes to beat the Turks.

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As for Turkey’s offensive attack, they make their money behind the three-point line but still finish when they get it inside. Their balance makes it tough to focus on one person or one area of the court, because five guys are always looking to make the next pass. If there comes a time when Coach K needs to shut down one person, I’d use Andre Iguodala on Ersan Ilyasova. Ersan has taken a couple games off offensively, netting 6 and 9 in two of his last three after averaging 17 over the first four contests. Objective #1 for Iguodala should be keeping Ilyasova out of his rhythm, and AI’s up to the task a day after limiting Linas Kleiza to 4 points on 1/11 shooting.

Iggy’s taken full advantage of the FIBA rules, as he explained in a press conference. “In the NBA it’s hard to stop somebody. There’s not too much hand checking so I try to slow guys down. There’s no such thing as stopping them,” Iguodala said after the game. “But out here they let you play a little more defense so it kind of suits me, and it’s to my advantage a little bit more. There are players that are great on offense, all across the world, and you’re not going to stop all of them. But you can make it tough for them, maybe wear them down and start making them think about, ‘OK, what can I do to get this guy off me?'”

And if AI isn’t on Ilyasova then Turkoglu will have to figure out how to get this guy off me. He’s got the right idea, though, when it comes to mucking up the USA’s attack. “We have to minimize mistakes because they are a good team on the open court. We don’t want to give them any opportunities like easy baskets and we will try to keep the game close,” said Hedo after their victory over Serbia.

They’ve clearly got their heads in the right place and with leaders like Kerem Tünceri and Omer Anan, I wouldn’t count on them to stray too far from the plan. In their eight wins so far, they’ve made it clear they value the rock, only turning it over 11.3 times per game, third best out of the 24 teams that showed up on day one.

And who can stop Kevin Durant? Nobody can. His 38 points yesterday were the most in USA Basketball’s history, and he’s not the type who cools off overnight. What Tanjevic’s Turks need to do is figure out how to force him into awkward situations and tough looks. He’ll hit some, sure, but it’s harder to get into a rhythm with a hand in your face as you fade away or shoot in traffic. If the USA wants this one, it will be on Chauncey Billups, Eric Gordon and Rudy Gay to command attention by knocking down open shots. Derrick Rose, who only saw 12 minutes yesterday in a zone-infested game, will need to figure out a way to hurt Turkey from deep if he wants those driving lanes to open back up.

The only certainty tonight is that the atmosphere will blow us all away, and win or lose, basketball in Turkey has taken a  gigantic leap forward. That’s good for everyone.

Prediction: USA 86-77 Turkey.

Live IstanBLOG: France vs. Turkey

All right. My BBC stint ended just in time for the tip-off here. It’s the hosts Turkey versus a very undermanned French team that’s capable of beating anyone. Anybody see their game against Spain last week? That’s the stuff I’m talking about. Coming from someone who called the Slovenia vs. Australia blowout, the fans’ wildness and the anticipated excitement is a welcome sight. We pick up the action three minutes deep. France trails five to nil thanks to a Turkoglu three and an Asik deuce:


-Ilyasova wears that face mask like a real pro. Even when he feels like his face has become invulnerable to elbows, he should carry on the tradition. He makes two free throw, which is also cool.

-Crazy stat: Turkey leads the tournament in both rebounding and 3-point percentage (41%). Tough to beat a team that shoots well and grabs the boards when they miss.

-Luigi Lamonica is reffing this one. The Italian has a flair for the unfair.

-Turkey must’ve watched Spain dismantle Greece’s attack with the zone last night. They’re trying the same here with 4 minutes remaining in the opening quarter. A 2-3 to be precise.

-Thank you Sinan Erdem Arena for hearing my pleas. Nando de Colo realizes that a zone doesn’t isn’t a STOP sign. If Turkey’s lazy, it is drivable. Nando lays it in, five for him in the game.

-Neither team blowing me away offensively, but it’s 16-13 with a minute left. Better than the 2 points Australia put up in the first 6:30. All of Turkey’s buckets are coming more easily. France is laboring for everything and not finishing when they need to. Nothing wrong witha  4-point deficit (17-13 since I started typing), but they can’t let it get much larger against a balanced team like the Turks.


-Right now the Turks are up by 5, 19-14. Not altogether too discouraging for the French though.

-Raul Jimenez, Spanish basketball coach in the LEB Gold League, just pointed out to me via Twitter the way Turkey’s zone leaves space on the baseline. France has the athletes to make them pay there if they play their cards right. They’ll need to get it to the corner quickly before the gaps close up. Once Turkey’s shotblockers—Omer Asik and Semih Erden in particular—help on the weakside, the French won’t have many clear looks at the hoop.

-Florent Pietrus hits a lucky one from 16 feet. Not his shot, not what France wanted, but they’ll take it.

-And Guler Goes Hard to the hoop and drops ‘er right where she belongs. De Colo with another now. Turkey’s lead is 28-20.

-The fans are into this thing. But credit goes to the French, who are the only ones on their feet consistently here.

-Oguz Savas picks up a little hip check violation thirty feet from the rim. Illegal screen. They don’t need that. Only his first though, so no real foul trouble there. Now maybe if France drove to the basket…

-That’s the way France needs to get into the teeth of this Turkish zone: using Diaw as their facilitator in the key. Get it to him, let the bigs collapse and then a hit a cutter on that baseline we’ve been talking about. That time it turned into two points for Florent Pietrus. Turkey still leads 40-28 with a minute left until halftime.

-Beautiful two man game with Hedo Turkoglu and Oguz Savas. Oguz finishes on a textbook pick and roll. John Wooden is smiling down on Istanbul, wherever he is.

-Turkey leads 43-28 at the half. France is simply overmatched.


Turkey: Sinan Guler 8, Hedo Turkoglu 8, Ersan Ilyasova 7, Ender Arslan 6, Oguz Savas 6

France: Boris Diaw 7, Nando de Colo 7, Florent Pietrus 6

How far will Turkey make it in this tournament?

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-Turkoglu gets it going. Bangs a triple in from the wing. 46-28 and we’re seconds away from blowout mode (for the second time today).

-My WordPress screwed up and that seemed to be good luck for Mr. Turkoglu. He had two big three to put this thing pretty much out of reach and the third quarter’s not half finished.

-I’ve given up on WordPress tonight. I’ve gotten almost as many ‘500 Internal Server Errors’ as Turkey’s gotten easy looks inside. That’s part of the reason they’re up 62-41. Another reason: France just isn’t that good. Why did the Lord have to strike down Beaubois only weeks before I flew to Istanbul? Why?

-69-45 as the third quarter has almost come to a merciful ending. 28-17 the difference in the third frame as Omer Asik tips it in at the buzzer.


-France has turned it over 14 times. Turkey, 7 times.

-Nicolas Batum catches an oop and then comes down with another two-handed jam. Obviously too little, too late, but it’s nice to see this France side hasn’t completely forgotten where the ball is supposed to end up.

-If anyone still cares out there, Turkey’s up 82-60. Another assist for Nando on the Boris Diaw three but there aren’t many positives I can report at the moment. Gelabale’s dreadlocks haven’t come undone. That’s good news…I guess.

-And Sinan leaves to a standing ovation. Boy does he deserve it. I’ll leave outta here in a few minutes to see if I can grab a word with tonight’s superstar and an ELA blogger.

-Final line on Sinan Güler: 17 points (7/7 from 2, 1/3 from 3), 3 assists, 1 turnover 18 minutes of work. Only Turkoglu has more tonight (20).

-95-77 is your final. Didn’t exactly get the close games we dreamed of, but a day of basketball is a day of basketball, and there ain’t much that beat that. Thank you again to the BBC World Service for letting me on their airwaves for bits and pieces of a 3-hour show. I had a blast.

Guler Goes Hard: Istanbul’s next rap sensation.

Freaknick: So you locked up homecourt for the Turkish League Playoffs. I don’t need to ask you “How important is that?” because it’s obviously huge. Instead I’ll ask you this: what’s the worst, ugliest, nastiest thing you’ve ever encountered on an opposing team’s court? (Be as graphic as you’d like…we’re uncensored)

Sinan Guler: I got two memories of wild fans.

One was during college when we went down to Lubbock, TX for a tournament. During one game against the home team, everytime I was running in front of the student section of the bleachers, the student were making the turkey sound, ‘gobble gobble.’ It was something I actually enjoyed, because I thought it was quite creative and non-violent.

Last year during the finals, playing against Fenerbahce Ulker, I have a vivid memory of the treatment we saw during the road games. The fans of Fenerbahce were pretty wild.

FN: If you don’t mind me bragging on you, your last game against Kepez Belediye was one of your best of the year statistically: 12 pts, 8 rebounds all in 21 minutes. Since I couldn’t see the game, tell the people if you thought it was your best performance of the season.

SG: I have been feeling pretty confident about the way I played lately. I had a chance to guard some pretty good players in the opponent teams, and show what I can do on the defensive side of the game. I also showed good signs on the offensive side of the game I think. It always feels good to do good things for the team and change the energy and the tempo of the basketball that we play.

FN: OK, so we recently did some back-and-forth Tweeting about a possible Guler-Freaknick rap about the World Championships being hosted in your home country. Before you can get on the mic you’ll need a proper rap name. Any ideas?

SG: Wow, you put me to a tough spot hear.. To be honest I wouldn’t wanna enter the border that I merely have no talent in. I am good at Guitar Hero, and that’s the best I can do related to music. So if you can come up with a name for me please share..

FN: I have plenty. My personal vote: Efes Pimpin’.

On to the the next one…

Recently, they released the Euroleague’s All-Decade Team: Holden, Siskauskas, Bodiroga, Langdon, Vujcic, Papaloukas, Diamantidis, Jasikevicius, Navarro, Parker. Having grown up watching a lot of these guys and even playing with most of them, tell us who your favorite is and why.

SG: Wow, it’s so tough to pick a favorite out of these players. Out of the players I played against, I would pick Papaloukas, because he is so dominant all around the court. Although he is a PG, to rule the court he does not need the ball in his hands at all times. I can compare him to Magic Johnson because of his size and basketball mentality.

FN: If you could extend this Euroleague roster to 12, who would be two other guys you would add to this list?

SG: Ginobili is the only name I can think of right now..

FN: If you had to make an All-Time Turkish Starting Five, who would be on it?

SG: My Father Necati Guler or Orhun Ene at the point, Harun Erdenay at the 2, Hedo at the 3, Ersan Ilyasova at the 4 and Kaya Peker as Center.

NBA Playoffs, Day 4: Ibaka Blocka Flame. BINGO!

By: Freaknick

While folks are still buzzing about Dwight Howard’s 9-block explosion the other night, another athletic forward was busy doling out the D in LA. Hint: his hair did not look like a bleach-stained windbreaker. Respect Serge Ibaka’s pimpin’.

Lakers 95-92 Oklahoma City: Well, Pau played well, Kobe dropped 39, Artest shot poorly, Durant scored 32 and Westbrook was dynamic. That sounds like the formula for a 3-point loss to me.

Oklahoma City

Thabo Sefolosha: 2-7, 7 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals

Nenad Krstic: 4-7, 10 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks

Serge Ibaka: 2-5, 6 points, 5 rebounds, 7 blocks (7 blocks! Let’s get it, Serge.)


Pau Gasol: 8-14, 25 points, 12 rebounds, 2 assists, 0 blocks

DJ Mbenga: DNP-CD

Sasha Vujacic: DNP-CD

Atlanta 96-86 Milwaukee: J-Smoooooove went for 21, 14 and 9 with 2 blocks.  JJ had himself 27 and 6 assists. You could make a Daily Top Ten from this game alone. Welcome to the Highlight Factory.


Al Horford: 8-13, 20 points, 10 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, 3 blocks. Fill that statsheet, homie.

Zaza Pachulia: 0-2, 0 points, 3 fouls, 3 messages sent.


Brandon Jennings (don’t act like you’re not curious): 3-15, 9 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal. Haven’t seen him play that badly since he was in Roma.

Ersan Ilyasova: 5-10, 13 points, 15 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 block. The best player on the floor tonight for Mil-town.

Carlos Delfino: 4-12, 0-4 from 3-pt, 8 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute: 4-8, 8 points, 4 rebounds

Primoz Brezec: 5:41 and nothing. Literally zero production. One foul though, so there’s that…

Boston 106-77 Miami: Even with criminal Kevin Garnett on the sidelines, the Heat couldn’t hang with the Boston. Ray Allen somehow scored 25. First volcanoes, now dinosaurs; are we in prehistoric times?


The city of Boston is anti-diversity and therefore employs no international players.


Carlos Arroyo: 1-6, 4 assists, 1 steal. I still legitimately feel as though Patrick Beverley will be starting at the point next season in South Beach. Mark it down in your legal pad.

Joel Anthony: 0-1, 2 points, 1 turnover. Your typical Joel Anthony game.

Jamaal Magloire: 0-2, 0 points, 1 rebound, 1 turnover. Remember when he was an All-Sta? Yeah, me neither.

Yakhouba Diawara: DNP-CD

Phoenix 119-90 Portland: What the hell, Rudy? He’s complained about his playing time all season and then gets a chance to start against a pretty free-wheeling defense and he scores 5 and then 5 again in around 28 minutes both nights. Last night, only got up two shots, both threes. When he drove he got fouled and made 5-6 from the line. Keep going to the hole young brother. Or come on back to Europe. Martell Webster ended up playing 35 minutes off the bench and led the Blazers in scoring with 16 to go with 5 boards. Uh-oh.


Rudy Fernandez: 0-2, 5 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 turnover

Nicolas Batum: 4-8, 12 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist. Batum left in the third quarter after jamming the same right shoulder that kept him out for 45 games last season. He’ll get an MRI and said, “I’m sure I’m going to play the next game.” I hope so.

Patrick Mills: 2-4, 1-1 from 3-pt, 6 points. Good for Patty, logging some playoff minutes.


Steve Nash: 5-11, 13 points, 16 assists, 1 turnover. I’d like to introduce you to Playoff Steve Nash.

Goran Dragic: 3-6, 2-4 from 3-pt, 8 points, 1 assist in 19 minutes

Leandro Barbosa: 3-11, 9 points, 2 rebounds

Out For Blood: EuroBasket 2009

By: Slam

In a distant land far away (Poland) European teams fight for continental supremacy.  As the qualifying round comes to a close, it’s time to reflect on a few days that have been jam packed with national pride and animalistic instinct.  In the Eurobasket Kingdom, the rules are very simple: survive. At any cost.

Hedo and Ersan are the Lions of the EuroBasketThe Lion- Turkey

Not known as a favorite going into the tournament, Turkey has looked like the king of the jungle.  They have feasted on their opponents like cornered deer, thirsting for blood.  Other undefeated teams like Greece and France have put up good performances but they have not played the competition Turkey has; they are not lions.  In their first encounter with the evenly matched but wounded Lithuanian squad, Turkey was able to pounce on their prey in the 4th quarter for an eight point win.  The lions with the biggest manes are Ersan Ilyasova and Hedo Turkoglu who were able to put in 17 and 19 points respectively.  Next up on the chopping block was the lowly creature that is Bulgaria who barely put up a fight in a 28 point loss.  The final victim for the lion was the home team Poland who was undefeated up until that point.  Caught with their chests out Poland became the latest prey disposed by Turkey.  They were not the premier team coming into the tournament but Turkey has two of the EuroBasket’s best players and a stable of big men that was good enough to earn the title of Lion.

Israel was the Goat of this KingdomThe Goat- Israel

Some teams may have less talent (Great Britain and Bulgaria) than Israel, but no team put up a worse showing in the qualifying round.  Placed in a group with one winnable game (Croatia) and one game in which they were the favorite (Macedonia), Israel had a clear chance to advance.  After barely losing to Croatia, Israel was beaten by Macedonia and become the ill fated goat of this kingdom.  This only became worse after a 46 point shellacking by Greece in the final game.  After this it was clear that Israel was the animal in this kingdom that was laying in an open field, just waiting to be maimed.

Continue reading Out For Blood: EuroBasket 2009

Back to the NBA, Back to the NBA, Ersan Ilyasova is Going Back to the NBA!

By: Slam

Back to the NBA. Back to The NBA, to prove to fans that I’m a good player. I got my three point shot packed up, my Nike’s tied tight, I hope I don’t get put on the end of the bench. Ohhhh, back to the NBA. Back to The NBA. Back to the NBA. Well, here goes Ersan far, far away…

*We apologize for the fuzziness of the first video.  If it really bothers you, just turn the  volume up and close your eyes.

Ersan Ilyasova already played for the Bucks
This will be Ilyasova's 2nd Trip to the NBA

In honor of the movie “Billy Madison” I decided to give Ersan Ilyasova a special sendoff from all of us at Euroleague Adventures.  The Milwaukee Bucks, who originally drafted Ilaysova in 2005, have just signed him to a reported three year deal worth $7 million. Ilaysova is coming off a great season for FC Barcelona in which he averaged 10.5 points and 7 rebounds a game helping lead Barcelona to the Final Four.  This will be Ilyasova’s second stint in the NBA as he played for those same Bucks for two seasons from 2005-2007.  In his first year he played mostly in the NBA’s Developmental League for the Tulsa 66ers and then moved on to play 66 games for the Bucks the next year averaging 6.1 points and 2.9 rebounds per game.  After playing two years for Barcelona, Ilyasova is much better prepared for the NBA.  Here are some more “Billy Madison” quotes that have been changed to show us what Ilyasova has learned in Europe and what he will bring back with him to the NBA.

You ain’t cool, unless, you shoot three pointers! Everybody my age is shooting three pointers; it’s the coolest!

Ilyasova always liked to put up three point shots, but he never hit them consistently.  Now he is finally shooting above 40% from three land in his 2nd season with Barcelona in which he hit 40.3% of his 3’s.  Now that defenses have to be honest with his long range shot it will open up more room for him to drive to the hoop and work in the post.  This will be a very good weapon to have in the NBA as Ilyasova is not as athletic compared to NBA players as he was to Euroleaguers.  His shot takes a little time to set up but he has a nice high arching release to get the ball over NBA foe.  With an effective outside shot he can drag power forwards out of the paint and shoot rainbows all day.

Continue reading Back to the NBA, Back to the NBA, Ersan Ilyasova is Going Back to the NBA!