ISTANBUL (2010 FIBA World Championship) – There will be a lot of intense basketball played in Turkey later this year when 24 teams enter the race for international basketball’s ultimate prize, the FIBA World Championship gold medal.
For now, fans all over the country, from Istanbul to Ankara to Kayseri to Izmir, are focusing on the battle for supremacy in the TBL Beko Basketbol Ligi.
Efes Pilsen are attempting to win the title and the biggest hurdle they face in achieving that aim is beating Fenerbahçe Ülker, the side led by Turkey national team coach Bogdan Tanjevic.
Tanjevic’s team won the latest of the derby showdowns at the weekend, 79-60, and the best player on the court by a country mile was Ömer Onan of Fenerbahçe Ülker.
The Turkey national team guard tore apart Efes, pouring in 20 points, which included a six-of-eight effort from three-point range.
He was also one of three from inside the arc.
“We are sad because we were disqualified from the Euroleague,” he admitted.
“Now our main aim is the league and the Turkish Cup.”
Fenerbahçe Ülker had been out of sync on offense in the build-up to the Efes Pilsen game.
Everything came good against their enemies, though.
“We were bad for a couple of games before,” Onan said, “unable to play as we wanted to. But against Efes Pilsen, everything has changed.
“We were very good as a whole team against Efes.”
The result has left Onan’s team one point adrift of Efes in the Turkish standings.
Onan played at the EuroBasket last year in Poland and will contend for a spot in the Turkey backcourt at the FIBA World Championship this year when they play against Greece, Puerto Rico, China, Russia and Ivory Coast in Preliminary Round Group C.
Another Fener guard, Roko-Leni Ukic, will be in Turkey at the 24-team event representing Croatia when they take on Slovenia, Brazil, Team USA, Tunisia and Iran in Preliminary Round Group B.
He scored 10 points in 25 minutes and also had five rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Turkey national team veteran Kaya Peker, meanwhile, scored 12 points and hauled in eight rebounds in 34 minutes for Efes.