Halfway Stage Report From TBL 2011-2012

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Yes, we are at the halfway stage of  TBL 2011-2012 and it was not bad at all. In terms of competitiveness and quality, of course still cannot compete with ACB but signs of improvement were not absent. In summary, still some and same teams win usually but at least that ‘winning all’ group includes a larger number of teams. Here is a shot summary of the first part of Turkish League.

The Ambitious: Anadolu Efes.  Ah for the ones who have missed the part that parliementary made a new law that  made the name of the team change, it is old Efes Pilsen.

Now,  a new year with an ex player who has no experience of head coaching in any other high level team as the technical man number one, Ufuk Sarica started and going well.

At the beginning of the season, the rich Anadolu Group, who owns Efes, the biggest beer company domestically, started with great ambitions. The aim was Euroleague Final Four and still is.

The road was some bumpy in Euroleague but the east of the Edirne, it was like a highway. Only two losses and they were understandable. The loss of Ersan Ilyasova to NBA was depressing but Dusko Savanovic eased the pain. Cenk Akyol, nearly forgotten last year is one of the biggest improvements. Strong from inside while defending and the aim is to win the title. Sasha Vujacic? He is the biggest star on paper but not always on the court.

The Surprised: Fenerbahce. Everybody I guess,  have heard about the story of this summer. The matchfixing scandal in football erupted and according to rumours, Fenerbahce was involved. They were afraid of making lots of spending therefore, the expectations were well below compared to last year. The start was slow but when Oguz Savas started to show his quality, Curtis Jerells and James Gist were the ones who did not hesitate to follow him.

The injured players like Mirsad Turkcan, Engin Atsür and Marko Tomas are getting healthier and started to contribute but everyone is missing the last years’ performances of Roko Leni Ukic and Emir Preldzic. One have to admit that they were in the most  evenly balanced group of Euroleague and get the Last 16. They lost 5 matches domestically, which is a  high  number for their standards but low for the expectations. At least they won against Galatasaray, their great rivals.

The Hopefuls: Galatasaray. Oktay Mahmuti continued on the bench and may be that was the best idea that the new management board have come to. The surprise final last year became the aim this year. Like a classical, old fashioned Yugoslavian team, Galatasaray is a squad that have stars but no heroes. Everyone knows his role and those who don’t, find themselves on the bench.

Too much control sometimes makes the team stumble on scoring, however that problem can be solved when the team fully understands the offense strategy and what Mahmuti have in his mind exactly. The new acquisition, Boris Savovic will contribute also from behind 3 point line and I think that is critical for Galatasaray in offence. They could not get it from Cevher Özer, a post player with great 3 pts. avg. and Darius Songalia’s minutes is  diminishing day by day.

The great news came from Furkan Aldemir, a rebound monster under the rim. Beside from Efes Pilsen and Fenerbahce, the only loss came from Besiktas, another city rival  and they were D-Will’less. Finals in TBL or F4 Euroleague is not impossible but offense improvement is needed. I think Jaka Lakovic feels the same.

The Admirables: Banvit. The great team of this -not so big- city Band?rma, Banvit is having a nice season again. Since a while, they are the ones who the big teams are afraid of. Orhun Ene, national team coach has created a very good team that was capable of winning 9 matches consecutively in TBL.

Moreover, now they are continuing their European adventure with Eurocup Last 16 groups. Just lost 4 matches, 3 of them was in the first 4 weeks. The stability of the squad game can give them  a chance to play TBL finals. Lance Williams and Charles Davis are leading the side under the rim and the much experienced backcourt lineup completes the chemistry.

Kars?yaka: Always a threat, especially when you are a guest. The big crowd will eat you a alive. Unbeaten since the beginning of December when they actually completed their hard part of the fixture against teams like Fenerbahce, Galatasaray and Efes. They sometimes show defensive weaknesses and that is their drawback.

Mire Chatman is having another nice season at ?zmir and Jovo Stanojevic-Goran Ikonic duo is helping him. An offense team is always doubtful but they deserve the credit not only the domestic 10-5 W/L count but their achivement of reaching the next stage of Eurochallange.

The Giant Killers: Tofas. Like in the oldies. It has been a long time since the city of Bursa had such a  great joy of basketball. There is no David Rivers or Rashard Griffith this time but instead Roland Steele and Bradley Buckman is cracking. At home, neither Efes Pilsen nor Besiktas or Fenerbahce was able to win.

Baris Ozcan, after a series of bad injuries, came back this year with great performances. 10-5 W/L count is not bad really after the 10th place last year. Nihad Izic is a long time coach of Turkish youth teams. U16 star Kenan Sipahi is rumoured to be on the shortlist of Barcelona and last summers’ U18 Euro bronz medallist Samet Geyik is showing himself time to time. Smells like teen sprit.

Inconsistently Good: Besiktas. Yes this time the biggest present to the supporters was Deron Williams and him and Marcelus Kemp built a great platform for the team to dominate the others. Once, Deron managed score 50 points so in short,  he was not a dissappointment like his predecessor, Allen Iverson. Now he is gone, his jersey is retired(yes, after a quarter of season) and Besiktas is inconsistent since then.

They can win of course but nobody can put his money confidently on the team; that would be a great gamble. Now we are talking about a team who was capable of beating Efes Pilsen, Galatasaray and Fenerbahce but at the same time, lost to Erdemirspor, Tofas(plausible) Turk Telekom and  Hacettepe University(questionable).

Meanwhile, they were eliminated at Eurocup against a Belgian team, Deixia Moins Hainault and now crushing the opponnents at Eurochallange. The lineup? Once NBA star Carlos Arroyo, Pops Mensah Bonsu, Marcelus Kemp, Adam Morrison, David Hawkins, Zoran Erceg and even Erwin Dudley. Impressed. Favourites for title? Without a doubt on paper. They sit at 4 at the ladder with 4 losses.

Inconsistently Bad: Turk Telekom. Year by year, they are losing their power. 5 years ago, teams were getting anxious when they were playing against the Ankara team but now? Reorganizing started last year  then stopping the process prematurely, they are now at the hands of the ex coach of their young team, Timucin Meric.

The results are not  getting better and they are becoming a symbol of inconsistency. Even having Mehmet Okur for a while did not help. Still, they are the ones who managed beat Fenerbahce, just as they did against Efes Pilsen last year.

Playoff Race: Erdemirspor and Aliaga. Erdemirspor, which is a small city on the Black Sea region, financed by the prominent steele production company of the country,  should be counted as quite successful. The last two seasons were really good when they lost the Turkish cup in the finals in 2009.

This season, the team lost important players but still  were capable of having a winning half season with 8-7 W/L. The win against Besiktas was important because the opponents had Deron Williams on their side. However, still needs a lot of work in order see the post season.

Their important rivals for that is Aliaga Petkim. So the ‘Petrol’ers against the ‘Steelers’ one must say. Izmir based team didn’t have a series of win, especially on the second part of the first half of the season. Ryan Toolson and  Umit Sonkol are having great seasons and it made 8 wins for the team.

Disappointed: Olin Edirne.  There comes the ‘Olive Oilers’. Last year, it was a dream start to TBL. This year, the picture is not that pleasing. Only one win at last 8 matches. Guess what happened then? Yes,  head coach change. Next, it will be hard to get back on the playoff track.

What about Mersin Büyük?ehir Bld? Good starts is not for them since a couple of years. In 2009, Ahmet Kandemir left at 17th matchweek and Mete Babaoglu was hired to put things in the right order. He could not escape from the same fate the next season after the slow start but now, he will again lead a team with 4 wins.

Nightmare Start: Trabzonspor and Antalya Büyük?ehir Belediyesi. Dragan Sakota is the common name. The great Serbian coach finished last year at Trabzonspor and appointed as the head coach of Antalya after 0-5 start this year. The immediate result is only 3 wins right now and they are missing that playoff place from the 8th spot last season.

Trabzonspor, a traditional great power in football, recently interested in basketball and seems like there is something wrong. They were considering not to join the new season because of financial difficulties but somehow appeared in the big stage with restructuring.

Last year it was 11th place and now the new head coach of the team after Tolga Öngören resigned is the veteran coach Halil Üner. Famous for his capability of managing the teams that have difficultly to win matches and turn them into a competitive outfit, he has plenty of things to do  ahead.

Newcomers: Hacettepe and Bandirma K?rm?z?. Hacettepe University is counting on an experienced squad and seems to have a desire to survive in their first season. Got 4 of their victories out of 6 away from home and managed to beat Besiktas. Not a bad job for Ricardo Marsh, Melvin Sanders and co.

Bandirma K?rm?z? is the youth team of Banvit and the expectations were not so high at the beginning of the season. Winless start for a team that is full of youth national team members is 20 years old averagely  is normal. ?brahim Y?ld?r?m and Safak Edge are the prominent ones and showed  that they aim bigger challenges.

Photo:  golsmacservis.blogspot.com