EUROCHALLENGE FINAL FOUR
|Coach Ergin Ataman and Pops Mensah-Bonsu shake hands in front of captain David Hawkins. Besiktas have all the ingredients in place to do big things in the immediate future |
FIBAEurope.com collaborator Mark Woods looks back at an enthralling EuroChallenge Final Four weekend in Debrecen:
Where To From Here?
EuroChallenge 2012 champions Besiktas Milangaz have genuine ambitions to start moving into the ranks of Euroleague contenders.
At the moment, their budget, team management confirmed, is over $4 million which is more than that of most mid-range European clubs.
They've got, in Ergin Ataman, a coach who has now won two continental trophies (the 2002 Saporta Cup with Siena was his first).
They also have a core of players with experience at the highest level. It's likely they'll accept a place in the Eurocup next season but now it's a question of maintaining their momentum.
French basketball is on the rise again. Elan Chalon coach Greg Beugnot is still shocked that some French clubs are reluctant to enter the EuroChallenge and test themselves against teams from abroad.
But it's a step-by-step approach. In the past, the elite of the LNB neglected their development policy and solely targeted expensive imports.
|Elan Chalon and other top French clubs have taken the decision to nurture young players like Joffrey Lauvergne and they're beginning to reap the benefits|
Now, they're beginning to reap the benefits of nurturing a new generation inspired by Tony Parker while bringing in foreigners with something genuine to add.
There Is No Place Like Home
The city of Debrecen was a welcoming host for the Final Four.
But despite the efforts of Szolnoki Olaj officials in laying on free trains and tickets for their fans, Fonix Hall could not replicate the humid torrid atmosphere to be found at Olaj's normal venue.
There is, simply put, no place like home.
Pops Is Back For Good
Besiktas centre Pops Mensah-Bonsu could be one of the stars of the Olympic Games this summer.
The Final Four MVP missed EuroBasket 2011 through injury but he is eager to represent Great Britain in his home city of London.
A force of nature, he never quite found a perfect niche in the NBA but on this side of the Atlantic, he is a veritable beast.