Turkey: Mrsic Aiming For Final Four

22.03.2005

By Doug Booth, PA International

Fenerbahce playmaker Damir Mrsic is hoping his season will get even busier on Thursday night.

After pledging his loyalty to Bosnia-Herzegovina coach Mensur Bajramovic for this summer's European Championships, Mrsic will have to be at his brilliant best for the FIBA Europe League quarter-final decider against Besiktas on Thursday.

Not that the 34-year-old shooting marksman has shown anything other than that for Fener this season.

Mrsic, who is averaging 19ppg and 5.4 assists in the FIBA Europe League, loosened up with 22 points, five rebounds and three assists for Fener in their 74-70 victory over Banvitspor on Monday in the Turkish top flight.

"All our players have to be at their best if we are going to make it to the Final Four," a confident Mrsic told PA International in an exclusive interview.

"It is our most important game of the season. We have done a good job so far but it is far from over.

"We must be slight favourites because we are playing on our court in front of our own fans but it will not be easy.

"Besiktas are a good team in every position so it is important that we are at the peak of our game."

Mrsic, who hit a season-high 36 points against another quarter-finalist, BC Kyiv, just before Christmas, singled out Khalid El-Amin and center Ratko Varda, as Besiktas' main threats.

US-born El-Amin, who is averaging 20.2ppg and 7.3 assists in Europe this season, has drilled 36 points for Besiktas in the two play-off matches against Fener.

But Mrsic believes Varda could be the man.

"Ratko has been dominating the inside game and that is an area that has been a big problem for us," he said.

"Our big guys are not so strong, giving Ratko the advantage, especially on rebounding."

Besiktas go into Thursday's decider with a slight advantage, having won two out of the last three encounters between the sides.

But Fener power forward Marc Salyers believes if his side's defence is in top shape, they will go through to the semi-final stage.

"If we can restrict Besiktas to scoring between 70 and 75 points we will win, I am 100% certain of that," said Salyers.

And he admitted Mrsic was an important cog in the Fener wheel.

"He is a key performer and playing really well," said Salyers, who expected El-Amin to shadow him.


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