Shooting for the top again!
First of all, I would like to wish all the best to all the competitors in Euroleague. It's a little bitter for me that I'll be out for a little while more due to my knee injury. I'm luckier than my teammate Omer Asik, who was also injured during national-team duty and will be out until the spring. Fortunately, Semih Erden and I are both expected to join our team in a few weeks.
We are on the edge of a new beginning with the players who left and the ones joined us. But if you ask me the difference between the last season and this season, I can only say that the difference is serious injuries, nothing else. We lost Willie Solomon and Tarence Kinsey to the NBA, but we are lucky that their replacements are as quality as they were. I wish Willie and Tarence all the best in their NBA journey.
Marques Green is a kind of perfect team player who is always trying to find the best timing and position for a pass to his teammates to score. This is a good thing for a team which is based on the team play. We have Devin Smith, who is also a great player eligible to play the role for the team effort. He is also very kind and a perfect example of a strong character, which helps the other teammates in any situation. Theres nothing I can say about Gordan Giricek that others have not: he is a kind of elite star, which all teams need. I'm sure he will help us a lot. So generally, if I compare the last season's team configuration, we are at least stronger than before.
The only thing we are targeting is to play the Final Four, nothing else. For that reason, we have to follow our route step by step, like we did last season. Of course, we need the luck on our side, but the thing is that the luck is on the side of those who desire a lot.
It's not easy to challange the teams that have huge bugdets, like Olympiacos, Panathinaikos and CSKA Moscow, who signed some quality NBA players. It will be harder than last season for us, I think. But the thing is that we managed to move into the Quarterfinal Playoffs last season. We are more experienced and more dominant than last year. For sure, the favorite of our group is Tau Ceramica. We will try to finish the group stage in first two places. DKV Joventut, Lottomatica Roma and Union Olimpija are the other candidates for what we target. The key for us this season is that we have to get better results with the big opponents. Last season, we lost all the games against Regal Barcelona, Real Madrid and Panathinaikos in the group stage. This season, we have to win all five matches at home for the good of our future in the group.
Unfortunately, I remain in Istanbul instead of joining my team mates for the trip to Vitoria due to my knee injury. It's a bone problem, and I have to rest for it to recover. The team will miss the injured players like me, Asik and Erden. But our team concept is ready to handle the hard work. You can only become successfull if you have at least nine or 10 players in the rotation. That's what we will do this season as we will fight hard to reach our target. That's all from Istanbul for now, but I'll hopefully be back on the floor before long and blogging about big wins by Fenerbahce Ulker.
See you soon,
Saturday, October 18, 2008