by Jeff Taylor
If Besiktas spent big bucks to lure one of the greatest players in the world, Deron Williams, to their club during the NBA lockout, it was worth it.
Or at least that's what the club's top brass will be claiming, along with many of the fans that were drawn to the Turkish club because of the presence of the talented playmaker.
D-Will didn't deliver a berth in the Eurocup after experiencing a Qualifying Round shooting nightmare against Dexia Mons-Hainaut.
|Deron Williams had his jersey retired by Besiktas Milangaz after only three months with the club|
He was a combined six of 28 from the floor in that tie and even admitted after the October 4 second-leg defeat at Dexia that had prevented Besiktas from advancing to the regular season of the Eurocup that he'd "played like crap".
What Williams, the point guard who is returning to the New Jersey Nets with the NBA lockout coming to an end, did do at Besiktas is have a couple signature moments.
One was in uniform, a 50-point night against BG Göttingen in the EuroChallenge.
The other was in street clothes - dark trousers, a grey sweater and white shirt to be exact - as his No. 8 jersey was retired and lifted to the rafters in the Besiktas Milangaz Arena on Tuesday night before the team's EuroChallenge clash with ZZ Leiden.
While incredible to think no one else will ever wear the No 8 jersey for Besiktas again when considering Williams played only just three months, what's indisputable is the stir caused by the point guard when he poured in the 50 points against Göttingen.
Williams reflects on that game in his latest blog on his website.
"Every shot I took that night felt like it was going in, even the ones that missed," he says.
"When you see the ball go in that many times, you get in a good rhythm and your confidence can only grow from there.
"It makes even the tough shots seem easy."
Williams says he couldn't help but notice how the atmosphere in the arena began to change as he scored bucket after bucket.
"The best part about the game was how the fans really got into it," he says.
"You could tell that once I had 40 with like three minutes left they were counting.
"Every time I would score, you could see the excitement in the gym.
"You could tell they wanted me to get 50. My teammates were into it, too.
"Every time I came to the bench, my teammate Mehmet "Memo" Yagmur was like, "six more," then "four more," and "two more."
When he got to the half-century mark, it was quite an achievement.
He ended up nailing seven of his 10 shots from long range and 17 of his 23 shots from the floor overall.
Even with that fantastic outing, one that Williams called "one of the best games in my career", it's hard to believe he's been able to enjoy the ultimate honor for a Besiktas player after just three months.
Williams has enjoyed his time on the old continent and plans to come back to this side of the Atlantic next summer.
"I think the experience here has been good for me," he says.
"I hope to be on the U.S. Olympic team next year, and this will only help me prepare for it if I happen to be in London.
"I'll have a lot of European basketball experience under my belt."
Besiktas Win, But Barely
The only thing that would have spoiled the good-bye celebrations on Tuesday for Williams would have been a EuroChallenge defeat to ZZ Leiden.
And the fans had good cause to worry at the beginning of the fourth quarter when Leiden were on top, 55-53.
An Ersin Dagli three-point play put Besiktas in front to stay at 58-55.
Dagli's strong performance that night earned him the EuroChallenge Week 4 MVP award.
Besiktas remained unbeaten in the EuroChallenge at 4-0, and clinched a spot in the Last 16.
Meanwhile, Besiktas are being linked with Ukrainian center Kyrylo Fesenko.
The team has been on the lookout for a big man and Williams' former teammate in Utah could be signed.
Besiktas have yet to lose in the EuroChallenge, and they are not alone in that regard.
|Anthony King and the Artland Dragons can look back at a perfect November without a defeat|
Germany have two sides that are unbeaten in Artland Dragons and EWE Baskets Oldenburg, and Russia's Triumph Lyubertsy are also off to a fast start at 4-0.
Each of the four teams have secured their places in the Last 16.
Artland went unbeaten in the month of November in both Germany and Europe.
They improved to 4-0 with a 93-75 drubbing of Keravnos in Group H on Tuesday.
Oldenburg were impressive yet again on Wednesday, downing Bemaco SPU Nitra, 88-79.
One thing Predrag Krunic's team is not afraid to do is launch shots from long range.
In their latest victory, the team hit 11 of 35 attempts.
Averaging 86.3 points per game - second most in the competition - EWE Baskets rank 13th in their three-point shooting at 38.2%.
Their average of 9.8 made per contest, however, is tops in the EuroChallenge.
The other team that is 4-0 is Triumph Lyubertsy and the three-point shot figured prominently for them this week.
One of that club's rising stars, 18-year-old Sergey Karasev, had 13 points at Okapi Aalstar on Tuesday and it was his three-ball in the waning seconds that clinched an 84-83 win.
Triumph are third bottom in the average number of attempts from behind the arc at 15.2 points per game.
Woe to Bemaco SPU Nitra, BG Göttingen, BC Goverla, Olin Edirne and Pau Lacq Orthez.
The five teams have 0-4 records and no chance of progressing to the next round of the EuroChallenge.
This is a tough pill to swallow especially for Goverla, who were about to celebrate a win in their opening game against BK Prostejov but lost to a last-second three-ball.
They also had narrow defeats to Roanne Basket (81-78) and BK Pardubice (72-69).
The Ukrainian club's only convincing defeat came this week at Prostejov, who won 78-64.
All To Play For
Group G is definitely going to go down to the wire with all four teams having two wins and two defeats.
That is Telekom Baskets Bonn, Turk Telekom, Pinar Karsiyaka and BC "Minsk-2006".
Turk Telekom edged Karsiyaka this week in a real thriller, with NBA star Mehmet Okur hitting a game-winning three-ball.
Okur has been solid, averaging 15.8 points and eight rebounds per game.
He has also shot 44% (eight of 18) from long range in the EuroChallenge.
An NBA champion in his days with the Detroit Pistons, Okur still has a year left on his contract with the Utah Jazz.
Now that the NBA lockout is coming to an end, Okur will travel to the United States to link up with the Jazz.