By Johnny Askounis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
During the introductory Pinar Karsiyaka Media Day, head coach Ufuk Sarica opened the 2021-22 season by presenting a lofty goal for his side.
“We have a dream of a European cup. We want to be champions next year,” he said previewing Karsiyaka in the 2021-22 edition of the Basketball Champions League.
The Turkish team has been drawn in Group B of the Regular Season along with Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem, Baxi Manresa, and Arged BM Slam Stal Ostrow Wielkopolski. The top team advances to the Round of 16 and the next two move to the inaugural stage of Play-Ins.
“It’s not easy to play in the final series but we will do our best. Group games are important,” pointed out Sarica, “It’s the first part of the season but there will be rough games. There might be some games which don’t fit together but we want to play the games with our best and move to the next groups.”
Last season, Karsiyaka reached the championship game of the season-ending Final Eight. A loss to Hereda San Pablo Burgos settled his side as the 2020-21 runner-up.
“Hapoel Jerusalem invests every year. Manresa is from the great school of Spain. Arged BM Slam Stal is the champion of Poland,” he said describing the Regular Season rivals, “We can’t underestimate those teams. Our main goal is the advance to the next group and the quarterfinals which will take us to the Final Four. As always we will fight until the last minute. We will battle with unity in each part of the court. This year our fans will be with us and this will bring great enthusiasm, a big advantage. We miss playing with our fans. With their support, we will see a team with great energy on the court.”
Summer additions include Akil Mitchell, James Blackmon Jr., Bonzie Colson, Berkan Durmaz, Can Korkmaz, and Burak Can Yildizli. On the opposite direction, Sek Henry and Raymar Morgan, among others.
“We are playing preseason games trying to fit in the new players,” he mentioned, “The biggest difference is that we are playing off a different player. We all explain things we want on the court, try the moves about how we should play, and want the players to know us better. In the preseason, I can say our energy is too much with a higher capacity. But there are few more things we should solve. Amath (M’Baye) had just come back from injury and James (Blackmon Jr.) is still injured. These are the problems before the leagues start but I could say we will definitely be better when the season starts.”
His second stint at Karsiyaka started a couple of years ago following his first stretching from 2012 to 2016 and highlighted by the 2015 Turkish league championship.
Photo Credit: Basketball Champions League