BallinEurope had planned this second edition of the “Monday Hangover” to take a wide look at events in Euroleague play and top European domestic leagues, but the headlines vis-à-vis Continental basketball have been dominated by Fenerbahçe Ülker…
Talk about your roller-coaster weeks: The Istanbul side entered Euroleague week two as the vogue choice for a 2013 Final Four bid before suddenly confronted with a few obstacles on the way through the season. Take a look at a tumultuous four days in Fenerbahçe’s existence.
Thursday: Passport-gate begins. After the team’s charter flight lands at Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport, Romain Sato is detained on charges of traveling with a forged passport. While Sato is spending just about 24 hours in custody, rumors that the forward could be extradited to the Central African Republic, Sato’s country of origin, arise.
Fenerbahçe club officials begin spinning the incident, calling Sato’s detainment an “international scandal at the bureaucratic level, not merely simple friction between two Euroleague clubs.”
Friday: Fenerbahçe cries “SCANDAL.” Sato is sent back to Turkey after a reportedly sleepless night in Ljubljana, having been “freed,” in the words of Fenerbahçe officials. Via Sheridan Hoops’ Passport-gate reportage, a statement from the club stated in part that “Diplomatic and legal transactions [have been] started by our club against this illegal action … It should not be forgotten that this outlaw action, is not a problem between the clubs, it’s an international SCANDAL. Every detail regarding the issue is going to be shared with the public.”
Yes, that’s “scandal” in all caps.
Friday night: Winning the battle, losing the war? Sans Sato, Fenerbahçe gets past Union Olimpija, 81-75. With the Turkish side trading leads with the home team throughout the third quarter, Bo McCalebb keeps Olimpija from running away with things with a pair of key steals.
And then, the injury.
After achieving flight – and two points – on a lay-in over Alen Tomic, McCalebb twisted an ankle and was assisted off the court.
Saturday: Bo will return. According to the Team Bo McCalebb Twitter feed, Bo is to miss only the following TBL game and will be back this week when Fenerbahçe meets Real Madrid. However, the team announces that McCalebb will be a game-time decision on Thursday.
The optimistic among the Fenerbahçe basketball nation rejoice, but BallinEurope’s Euroleague fantasy basketball team nevertheless trades him out for Sonny Weems.
Sunday: Cliffhanger in Turkey. Sato suits up for Fenerbahçe against TED Ankara Kolejliler, but Kaya Peker does not. Meanwhile J.R. Bremer – who had accumulated zero points and three assists in three games overall – gets a lion’s share of minutes at PG.
Despite Bremer’s 0-for-5 line, Fenerbahçe is buoyed by Bojan Bogdanovic’s monster 21 points as Oguz Savas adds his best game of 2012-13 at 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting plus four rebounds. Apparently rested up, Sato contributes nine points and three boards in under 20 minutes of court time.
Unfortunately, clips of this match aren’t readily available yet online, but speaking completely subjectively … whoa, did the Fenerbahçe offense suddenly look slow. On the off-chance you’re not convinced of Bo’s influence on any European team, the McCalebb-sized hole in the Fenerbahçe offense (and defense!) in a game which the Istanbul guys should have run away with things provides quite the insight.
Without Bo distributing the ball, Fenerbahçe managed a woeful seven assists for the game; and without Bo collapsing the defense, the team’s three-point shooting was an awful 6-of-24. And as Ankara was able to control the tempo, Nedim Yücel suddenly looked like a superstar with six offensive rebounds to keep the underdogs alive again and again.
Monday: No new news – yet. Thus far this morning, no word on McCalebb, Peker or that legal action against unspecified parties … BiE tells you this, though: It’s hard to believe Fenerbahçe will see another week like this in 2012-13. Getting this wave of crises might be the squad’s biggest challenge this season – and for week three of Euroleague, that’s a scary thought for the competition…