|24 April 2012|
EUROCHALLENGE FINAL FOUR
|Ergin Ataman expects all Turkish fans to get behind Besiktas if it gets through to the EuroChallenge final |
Besiktas Milangaz may be presented with a shot at a European title this weekend and coach Ergin Ataman is only too aware of the occasion's significance for his club and Turkish basketball in general.
The Turkish powerhouse are one of the four remaining title contenders in the EuroChallenge.
On Sunday night in Debrecen, Hungary one out of Besiktas, Szolnoki Olaj, Triumph Lyubertsy or Elan Chalon will be proclaimed champion.
"Turkey has only conquered one European club competition title so far, the Korac Cup that Efes Pilsen (now Anadolu Efes) won in 1996," coach Ataman told Turkish daily Hurriyet.
"Now we have the opportunity to bring a new trophy to our country and we'll do our best to make it happen.
"Winning the Turkish Cup has further fuelled our motivation," Ataman says of the effect the first title of the season had on his team.
"At the moment maybe not everyone understands what a European championship trophy means, but I'm sure that when that day comes not only all Besiktas fans will be behind us and in our hearts, but the whole of Turkey will be behind us."
Besiktas do not get ahead of themselves though.
If they are to even reach the Final, they first have to get past hosts Szolnoki Olaj in Friday's semi-final and Ataman seems to have nothing but respect for the opponents.
"Our intensive preparations for the tournament continue," Ataman said.
"We are looking to be prepared right now tactically for the first game, against Szolnoki Olaj.
"They might be the weakest team on paper, but they have the home-court advantage which is very important in this type of tournaments.
"If they reached this Final Four it is because they did many things well and they deserve it.
"From this point on, a very hard battle awaits us."
In fact, Ataman is not eager at all for his team to assume the role of the favorite in this Final Four.
"Elan Chalon are second in France, Triumph Lyubertsy are third in the Russian league and we all know how strong these leagues are.
"It is very difficult to determine if there is a favorite in this tournament," he concluded.