2008 Top 16 profile: Efes Pilsen

Jan 30, 2008 by Euroleague.net Print

 Efes Pilsen
Regular Season:
4th, Group B, 8-6

Team Rankings
10th points
5th rebounds

David Blatt - Efes Pilsen
David Blatt
An inconsistent regular season does not change the fact that Efes Pilsen has every intention of going far this season. Injuries that have rocked the guard corps and hurt the team’s chemistry proved a challenge for head coach David Blatt, but while Efes bent, it didn’t break, finishing the regular season with an 8-6 record and fourth place in Group B. It would be an uphill climb from the start, as Blatt, who was busy leading Team Russia to gold at EuroBasket 2007, arrived late for preseason training for a team that would be incorporating seven new faces into the lineup. An injury to starting playmaker Rashad Wright a week before the season began that led to him missing seven games resulted in the unexpected signing of veteran Scoonie Penn, who needed time to adjust. However when Penn clicked – averaging 18.7 points on 45.5% three-point shooting and 4 assists during a six-game stretch as the team went 5-1 – the future looked bright. Back-to-back losses in the final two games of the season pr
James Penn, Efes Pilsen celebrates
Sconnie Penn
evented Efes from storming the top spots in Group B, but that could change in the Top 16. Drew Nicholas has been Efes’s chief offensive reference, but with guys like Loren Woods, Ermal Kuqo and Andre Hutson in the paint and Kenny Gregory leading the charge in the open court, Efes has plenty of ways to score the ball. Meanwhile forward Mustafa Abi and big man Kerem Gonlum remain as throwbacks to Efes’s traditional hardcore defensive sides, giving the club a well-rounded arsenal to make some noise and make a run at the Final Four. The missing piece could be shooting guard Serkan Erdogan, who will miss the start of the Top 16 due to knee surgery. If Erdogan returns to provide instant offense with his outside shooting off the bench, Efes could have all the parts needed to turn an average start to the season into something special by the end.

Efes Pilsen head coach David Blatt: "What can I say? I’ve seen a lot of Top 16 games and for me they are all very exciting and interesting. Some predictable, others less so. But it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense trying to predict the results. It seems good play will determine who will come out of each group. And for me the fans of the Euroleague have a lot to look forward from in this Top 16 draw."
Efes Pilsen center Ermal Kuqo: "It's a nice draw for sure. I mean that it’s good to stay away from the dangerous teams like Olympiacos and CSKA Moscow. Especially Olympiacos was the one which I’m expecting a big explosion from in the Top 16. Of course the teams playing in this round proved that they are all good. It’s good to start with a win or wins for our future plans. It’s a kind of draw which we were expecting. But one of the best things of that draw is that I will have a chance to play against my great pal Niksa Prkacin of Panathinaikos."
Efes Pilsen general manager Cenk Arastiran: "After the regular season, the best 16 teams are here and you cannot expect any easy games at all. Efes Pilsen has the power to quality to the quarterfinals in this group and will fight because this is our character. We always fight everywhere. We play the first two games at home and that is believed to be an advantage. Our main goal is to survive the Top 16, make it to the quarterfinals playoff and be able to come back to Madris for the Final Four."