7DAYS EuroCup newcomer Frutti Extra Bursaspor joins the competition with a brand-new roster and a new coach, Tutku Acik, who played four seasons in the EuroCup and now returns to it on the sidelines. Bursaspor made sure it will be competitive from day one by bringing in seven new players, some of them with great experience in both the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and the EuroCup. Such is the case of center Oguz Savas, a 14-year EuroLeague veteran set to make his EuroCup debut. Power forward Kenny Kadji and swingman Birkan Batuk are also well-rounded players. Bursaspor also brought in younger, athletic players such as playmaker Xavier Munford, scoring ace Malik Newman, small forward Daniel Hamilton and up-and-coming talent Omer Ilyasoglu. With a new coach and plenty of new players, Bursaspor will be an exciting team to follow in its maiden EuroCup adventure.
Munford and Ender Arslan are set to share the point guard duties. Munford is an all-around playmaker able to slash to the basket, generate off pick-and-roll situations and even help on the boards due to his athleticism and timing. Arslan is a veteran point guard with an outstanding basketball IQ and court sense, who is a deadly option in crunch time. Arslan and Coach Acik played together at Galatasaray Istanbul in the 2011-12 EuroCup and on the Turkish national team, so they know each other well. The teenage Ilyasoglu will start the season as the third point guard and try to earn more playing time as the season progresses. All signs point to Newman being one of the main scorers on the team; He is a shooting guard with unlimited range, both off the dribble and off screens. Expect him to take - and make - a lot of shots, especially from downtown. Birkan Batuk is a tough defender and a reliable shooter, while Can Maxim Mutaf offers intensity and experience off the bench.
Hamilton will see most of the minutes at small forward. He is a strong and physical player who rebounds well at both ends, has above-average passing skills and can score in many ways. He will surprise a lot of people due to his versatility, talent and aggressiveness. Three-point shooter Tevfik Akdamar will be his backup. Kadji, Savas and Perry Jones III will collectively carry the load in the frontcourt. Kadji is a versatile player, a good shot blocker and rebounder who can also shoot the ball with deep range. Savas is an old-school center with polished post moves, highlighted by a very effective jump hook. His size, experience and basketball IQ are very important for this team. Jones has great ballhandling and mobility for a player his size (2.11 meters), is a good defensive rebounder and comes off a strong season with the team. Expect him to play a leading role.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Hamilton is a very exciting newcomer to European basketball and a distinguished member of a basketball family. Three of his brothers are professional basketball players: Jordan Hamilton played in the EuroCup with Krasny Oktyabr Volgograd and Germani Brescia Leonessa and averaged 13.9 points in 16 games. Gary Hamilton has played most of his career in Japan and Isaac will play for Giessen 46ers in Germany next season. Daniel Hamilton, however, may be the best player in the family; he is an all-around forward capable of posting triple-doubles due to his good passing skills and natural ability to crash the boards. He has good ballhandling skills, which allow Hamilton to be effective in one-on-one situations and he can run the break like a point guard. If Hamilton adjusts to a different brand of basketball, he can surprise many EuroCup fans with his performance, since he can do a little bit of everything on the court.
Bursaspor has a lot of talented players who can score in many ways. Most of them--including Jones, Newman and Hamilton--are EuroCup newcomers. On the other hand, Acik may be a rookie coach, but enjoyed a 20-year professional career that included six seasons in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and four in the EuroCup. His veterans such as Arslan, Savas, Kadji and Batuk must play critical roles to help the newcomers adjust as fast as possible. Bursaspor has all it takes to be a solid team at this level with point guard depth, several solid scorers, experienced big men and potential difference-makers like Hamilton and Newman. It will take some time for the team to show its best level, however, when it does, Bursaspor may wind up as one of the most pleasant surprises in this EuroCup season.