EUROCHALLENGE FINAL FOUR
|Coach Ergin Ataman and Pops Mensah-Bonsu shake hands in front of David Hawkins with the cup after Besiktas completed their mission and brought home the first European Cup of a Turkish team.|
Besiktas Milangaz and Elan Chalon went into Sunday's EuroChallenge Final with a chance to claim a second trophy this season and the European media monitored the game closely.
Istanbul outfit Besiktas capitalized on the opportunity, winning 91-86.
Chalon had won the Semaine des As while Besiktas had already prevailed in the Turkish Cup before Sunday's showdown.
The two sides provided a thrilling conclusion in Debrecen, Hungary, to a great season in the competition after Triumph Lyubertsy defeated Final Four hosts Szolnoki Olaj in the battle for third place.
The SPOR newspaper in Turkey has a headline at the bottom of its front page that reads "Besiktas King of Europe", and it's accompanied a photo of the players with the trophy.
On Page 6 is more detailed coverage, including a photo with EuroChallenge Final Four MVP Pops Mensah-Bonsu of Besiktas.
The Great Britain center put an exclamation point on a terrific year in Europe by scoring 26 points and corralling 20 rebounds against Chalon.
The Hurriyet in Turkey displays a photo that shows Besiktas coach Ergin Ataman lifting the EuroChallenge trophy.
Ataman is surrounded by his players wearing black t-shirts that read in big white letters: "SAMPIYONU (Champion) BESIKTAS MILANGAZ."
The Hurriyet also carries a headline on Besiktas' title triumph that screams "Eagles Fly to the Championship"
There was intense interest in the game in Turkey, where it was shown on television.
Elan Chalon's pursuit of excellence made sure it was the game of the day in France, where it was also shown on TV.
They have booked a place in this season's Coupe de France Final, and are also in the hunt for the French Pro A title.
The game was also broadcast in Croatia and Hungary.
French newspaper Le Journal de Saône et Loire covers Elan Chalon basketball and they, too, show a photo of the Besiktas squad celebrating on the court with David Hawkins lifting the trophy.
The headline of the story reflects the sentiment of the French club's fans, saying: "Le jour le plus long" (The Longest Day).
Le Journal also calls Sunday a "nightmare" for Chalon, who began the contest in horrible fashion and trailed by 17 points early in the second quarter.
|Pops Mensah-Bonsu was the most dominant player at the FInal Four and was consequently voted MVP by the attending media|
Gregor Beugnot, the Chalon coach, says in Le Journal that he was disappointed in some of his players as the sense of urgency to win wasn't there at the start.
Chalon were led by captain Steed Tchicamboud's 19 points.
There is another story in Le Journal with the headline "Des regrets éternels" (Eternal Regret) for Chalon, which describes how Mensah-Bonsu, who will play for Great Britain at the London Games, set the tone for a Besiktas win.
The French sports daily L'Equipe writes that "Chalon played intermittently" while "Besiktas played with consistency".
French basketball fans know Mensah-Bonsu well because he was on the books of ASVEL Lyon Villeurbanne in the 2010-11 campaign before a shoulder injury cut short his season.
L'Equipe adds that "the Turks, led by a great Pops Mensah-Bonsu ... started out quickly at 15-3 and the lead grew to 32-15 after a three-pointer by Marcelus Kemp" early in the second quarter.
The paper also recalls that Chalon lost its previous opportunity to win a European trophy when falling to Maroussi in the 2001 Saporta Cup Final, 74-72, in Warsaw.
Remarkably, Bulgaria international Vassil Evtimov - the older brother of current Chalon sharpshooter Ilian - had 18 rebounds to go with his seven points for Maroussi against Chalon.
Le Journal also recalled that Saporta Cup defeat.
The paper wrote: "Chalon heroes lost their second European final in their history. Cruel."
In Spain, the national news agency EFE writes about Besiktas being the champions of the EuroChallenge after beating Chalon.
EFE covered the Spanish team that played in this season's EuroChallenge, Mad-Croc Fuenlabrada - the only side that beat Besiktas during the EuroChallenge season.
The French website, Basketnews.net, writes that "Elan stumbled at the last step" against a Besiktas that showed more "consistency" and "strength".
The first two sentences of the game report say: "Chalon has struggled. To the end."
The official Besiktas website proudly proclaims on its homepage: "EuroChallenge 2011-12 Champions".
It also runs a headline that says, "Men's Basketball wins EuroChallenge, makes history".
The European trophy in basketball is indeed the first in the history of Besiktas.
The website reflects on the Besiktas season in Europe with the headline "Championship Journey", a story that begins with the failed attempt to qualify for the Eurocup.
But 16 games and 14 victories later in the EuroChallenge, Besiktas are the champions.