As J.A. Sherman and NewsOK reported earlier today, Thabo Sefolosha has announced that he will be signing with the Turkish club Fenerbahce Ulker. Since we're all about the Euroleague coverage here at WTLC, I've decided to provide a short profile of Fenerbahce Ulker. It's one of the most historical and powerful clubs in Europe, though it hasn't ever gotten past the Euroleague Quarter-Finals.
Place of Residence: Ulker Sports Arena, Istanbul, Turkey
Year of Founding: 1913
Leagues Participating in: The Euroleague and the Turkish Basketball League
Qualified for Euroleague Via: Holding an A License
Last Year's Finish: Eliminated in Euroleague Group of 12, Turkish National Champions
Depth Chart (Projected):
C: Gasper Vidmar/Oguz Savas/Kaya Peker
PF: James Gist/Mirsad Turkcan/Berkay Candan/Rasid Mahalbasic
SF: Emir Preldzic/Marko Tomas
SG: Omer Onan/Thabo Sefolosha/Bojan Bogdanovic
PG: Roko Ukic/Curtis Jerrells/Hakien Demirel/Engin Atsur
Thabo Sefolosha is an interesting signing for this team. They've lost a lot of talent from last year, including former Bobcat Sean May, and Lithuanian stars Sarunas Jasikevicus and Darjus Lavrinovic. But signing Thabo Sefolosha doesn't do a whole lot to patch up the holes, as they already have last season's top scorer in Omer Onan starting at SG, and the very capable Emir Predelzic starting at SF. If I were Fenerbehce Ulker, I'd be more worried about my front line, which is currently manned by James Gist at PF(who averaged pedestrian numbers for KK Partizan) and Vidmar and Sagas at Center, both of whom don't really wow you in terms of talent. Their bigs do average a good amount of points, but it's worth noting that the Euroleague still uses the wider lane, thus making the post game and entirely different world than in US and FIBA basketball.
Below: Thabo as a bench player, Thabo as an offensive weapon?
But perhaps the team wasn't really looking to make a huge splash with this signing. Rather, they might have been looking to poach the one role player they might need to complete their puzzle and advance to the Euroleague Final Four. Even then though, it's obvious that their main problem last year was big man defense, with guys like Rasho Nesterovic, Robertas Javtokas, and Dusko Savonovic having field days against them. They have had problems with penetrating guards like Bo McCalebb and Nando De Colo, but who doesn't? Sefolosha is good against those defenders, but I'm skeptical as to whether it will produce any more wins for the team.
There's also the possibility that Sefolosha could be seen as an offensive weapon in Europe. Thabo's specialty is the corner three, and luckily, the entire arc in Europe is about at the same range. Plus, the mid-range game is used much more often in Europe, and he did average 12 points for Angelico Biella of Italy in 2005-2006 before coming to the NBA.
Do you have any thoughts on the signing? Post a comment!