Usually, I like to talk about the positive things, the things that worked and brought results beyond expectations, but sometimes I believe that we need to highlight the less pleasant things in order to learn and progress, so today I will talk about the disappointing season of Fenerbahce.
The desire of the Turks was seen from the beginning of the season by bringing in a coach who was wanted by everyone, Dimitrios Itoudis. The Greek was probably the most desired coach last summer, considering the eminent separation from CSKA Moscow due to the war and the exclusion from the Euroleague. Winner of two Euroleague as head coach and another five as assistant coach of the legendary Zeljko Obradovic at Panathinaikos, Itoudis found in Turkey a team already with many stars but he was given a green light to bring what he wanted, money not being a problem for Fenerbahce. The beginning of the season found them in a very good position, being rated with good chances to stop the dominance of Efes in the Euroleague and to win the national title due to the value of the players, names like Johnathan Motley, Marko Guduric, Scottie Wilbekin, Nigel Hayes-Davis, Tylor Dorsey, Carsen Edwards, Nick Calathes, Dyshawn Pierre, Devin Booker, Melih Mahmutoglu or Tonye Jekiri formed one of the most valuable individual teams, close to what Barcelona or Real Madrid had.
What followed was a nightmare for the experienced Greek coach, with such a team the reason for the injuries is out of the question. In the Euroleague, they finished in eighth place with more luck, but in the playoff with Olympiakos, they failed to take advantage of the victory on the field of the Greeks and were finally defeated in match 5, missing Final 4. Even the home matches from Euroleague were problematic, losing 5 times in 17 rounds, huge for a club with their claims. Instead, in the Basketball Super League they did much better in the regular season, they finished in second place behind Turk Telekom, the season’s revelation but in front of Efes, which ensured their home-field advantage in the case of a match with them. In the playoffs it seemed that things were working perfectly in the end, they eliminated Tofas in the quarterfinals without emotions and started the semifinal with Efes with a huge victory 108-66, but what followed is incredible. Itoudis was outclassed in the next three matches, tactically and value-wise (I won’t go into discussions about arbitration) by a team that had disappointed more than them up to this point led by a coach, Ataman who had already signed with Panathinaikos and with many players already thinking elsewhere. There followed three matches decided by the end, in which the Greek of Fenerbahce was defeated by Ataman at each end of the game (92-90, 97-91, 87-78), giving the impression that the first victory was just a coincidence due to the good day on throws from the 2 and 3 point line.
It will probably be a difficult summer at Fenerbahce, the incredibly poor performances of this season must be reviewed and Itoudis has 2 more seasons to prove why he is one of the best European coaches. Especially since he has to restore his image after the nerve exits at the end of the matches with Efes and his attitude at the press conferences. This summer will bring some interesting names of players to Turkey, I rely on the pride of the Greek and his desire for revenge.