Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul will be facing a key season in 2020-21. The departure of long-time coach Zeljko Obradivic, which made the club champ in 2017, will be a deep hole to fill. Along with him, many staples in the roster also left and new coach Igor Kokoskov will have the tough task to make the many new faces gel fast to maintain Fener's name at the top. Here are five key games for Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul.
Round 6: Seeking revenge from last season
A strong early test for the new-look Fenerbahce comes in Round 6 with a trip to Tel Aviv, taking on a Maccabi side which swept Fenerbahce last season. In fact, the Turkish team has historically struggled at Menora Mivtachim Arena, only winning twice in 10 visits this century (in 2015 and 2018), so gaining a road win against a traditionally tough opponent would be a great early sign of intent from Igor Kokoskov’s men.
Round 11: Kalinic comes back to Istanbul
The first of this summer’s high-profile departees to return to Istanbul will be Nikola Kalinic, who will make the journey with his new team Valencia in Round 11. Kalinic played 142 EuroLeague games for Fenerbahce during his five seasons with the club, and will always be particularly fondly remembered by the Turkish team’s fans for his vital role in the 2017 title triumph: in the Championship Game victory over Olympiacos, he contributed 17 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists.
Round 16: Sloukas returns in his old jersey
Similar to Kalinic, another key player in Fenerbahce’s success over the last few years was Kostas Sloukas, and the backcourt general will return to Istanbul with his ‘new’ club Olympiacos in Round 16. Sloukas made 143 EuroLeague appearances over five seasons with Fenerbahce and earned selection into the 2018-19 All-EuroLeague First Team, so his legacy with the Turkish team is assured. But he will aim to upset his former fans on this occasion.
Round 21: De Colo returns to Moscow, for real
The trip to take on current champion CSKA Moscow is already special enough for Fenerbahce, but especially so for Nando De Colo as he returns to the place he called home for five years. De Colo missed last season’s game between the teams in Moscow through injury, while the rematch scheduled towards the end of the season never happened, so this will be the Frenchman’s first game against his former club.
Round 30: Ulanovas goes against the green jersey
Summer signing Edgaras Ulanovas will welcome plenty of old friends to Istanbul in Round 30 as Fenerbahce plays host to his old club, Zalgiris Kaunas. Ulanovas won at Fenerbahce as a visiting player with Zalgiris in each of the last three seasons, including a 76-79 triumph last November, so the dynamic forward will be hoping to once again taste victory in this match-up... but this time whilst wearing the home team uniform.