Metecan Birsen: “Winning the championship with Fenerbahce makes me so proud”

2022-07-03T15:22:09+00:00 2022-07-03T15:55:42+00:00.

Meliksah Bayrav

03/Jul/22 15:22

Fenerbahce’s Metecan Birsen on Eurohoops regarding his early days in his career, relationship with Sasha Djordjevic, decision process of signing with Fenerbahce again and more…

by Melikşah Bayrav /

As a player who became professional with Fenerbahce jersey, Metecan Birsen was a wonderkid for the Turkish basketball with his amazing skills during his youth ages. Although things started well for Metecan, who shines with his performance in youth national teams as well as Fenerbahce, later on he couldn’t find the playing time that he expected.

For a young player although his huge potential like Metecan, playing constantly in a competitive team like Fenerbahce is not easy at all. As a young player who wants to spend much more time on the basketball court, Metecan Birsen decided to left Fenerbahce at the end of the 2013-14 season.

After that, Metecan nearly built his career from the very beginning and became one of the most successful stars in Turkish basketball. As a player who had the privilege of competing in the 2021 Basketball Champions League final with Pinar Karsiyaka, last summer Metecan came back to his “home” Fenerbahce after the 7 years.

For Fenerbahce, which started the 2021-22 season with some huge additions and big expectations, in the beginning things did not go as expected especially in the EuroLeague. After couldn’t reach to the EuroLeague playoffs, Fenerbahce fully concentrated on becoming the Turkish League champions and they reach their goal with beating 2 time EuroLeague champs Anadolu Efes on the final stage.

After his comeback, Metecan Birsen was one of the key players for Fenerbahce in the Turkish League finals. With his some critical shots, rebounds and assists, Metecan helped his team a lot during the road through the biggest prize.

Metecan Birsen describes the tough process through the Turkish League championship with this sentences:

“This season there was a lot of ups and downs for our team but every team has that kind of ups and downs throughout the season. When we talk with each other as a team, we said ‘alright’ and fully concentrated on the Turkish League. EuroLeague season did not finished as expected for us but during the last 1-2 months, we prepared meetings as players and became fully concentrated for the Turkish League championship. Especially we trained so hard and we get the reward of our huge efforts. Turkish League playoffs was so tough. Especially the quarter finals against Bursaspor was so tough. They were great opponents to us, playing in the EuroCup finals was a huge success for them. From the quarter finals, we show everyone that how much we want to become Turkish Champions. We wanted to finish the season well and it was a great motivation for us. As a player who became professional in Fenerbahce, to come back here and win the championship in my first year makes me feel so proud.”

For Fenerbahce, Turkish players contribution was a key factor against Anadolu Efes in the Turkish League Finals. As a Turkish player, Metecan Birsen comments on their relationship with coach Sasha Djordjevic and his role about that contribution:

“First of all, Sasha Djordjevic is one of the most valuable coaches i’ve ever worked with. It’s not possible to communicate easily with every coach but our relationship with Djordjevic was special. As a player, you can talk with him easily whenever you want. Every member of our team had a huge respect for him and he makes us feel special throughout the season, especially at the end. Gaining a huge success and becoming Turkish League champions after the 4 years was an amazing feeling. I think the point that make the difference against Anadolu Efes was the contribution of the Turkish players.”

Last summer before joining Fenerbahce, Metecan Birsen also received an important offer from last German League champs ALBA Berlin. He says that former Fenerbahce coach Igor Kokoskov played a huge part for his transfer process through the Turkish giants:

“My transfer process to Fenerbahce was a little bit different. For me, the first transfer offer has came from the ALBA Berlin. After the interests of Fenerbahce and coach Igor Kokoskov, i thought that signing with Fenerbahce is the correct decision for my improvement. Igor Kokoskov told me that he’ll use me on starting five frequently and give me so much responsibility especially in the EuroLeague. After that conversation, i thought that it was a huge opportunity for me and i decided to sign with Fenerbahce. A week later after my decision, coach Igor Kokoskov left the team. Of course these are things that happen in sports and professional life. I also had great memories with coach Sasha Djordjevic, i learned from him a lot.”

During his young ages, Metecan Birsen was a huge star potential and expectations were so high for him. As a young player who faced a lot of difficulties in connection with the interest throughout his development process, he describes himself with this sentences:

“Of course i’ve faced a lot of difficulties. Every athlete faces a lot of different difficulties throughout their careers. As a player, the biggest success is overcoming these difficulties. First of all, we’re all doing a very tough job and we make big sacrifices. It is not easy to stay at the top level all the time. Of course i’ve faced a lot of difficulties especially at my young ages but i’ve never stopped working hard. I owe my ability to come these days to constant extra trainings and dedication.”

During his first stint with Fenerbahçe, Metecan Birsen’s adaptation process to Fenerbahce professional men’s roster was not easy at all. As a young player who couldn’t find the playing time he expected, Metecan comments on that process from his perspective:

“For every young player, that process is not easy at all. For a player who rose from the young teams, it’s not quite possible to spend huge minutes on the court. Especially in the high-budged teams, it can not be expected to suddenly have a huge role.  Of course at first, it takes a certain time to adapt into this situation. Coaching staff’s support also very important on this adaptation process. During at my first stint with Fenerbahce, i had the chance of working with great people. I also had the chance to work with Zeljko Obradovic for a season. Our assistant coach Erdem Can and the other players were so supportive to me. Although their big support, i wanted to play more and i decided to leave the team at the end of 2013-14 season.”

As a player at the age of 18, Metecan Birsen also had the chance of working with legendary Zeljko Obradovic throughout the 2013-14 season. He comments on Zeljko’s effect on his playing style with these words:

“I was 18 during the 2013-14 season. He had a big effect on improving my playing vision and changed my perspective to basketball. Especially the different details that he paid attention, his game plans and his huge knowledge, opened a different window for me in many ways.”

After his experiences with Eskisehir Basket and Istanbul Buyuksehir Belediyespor, Metecan Birsen joined to Sakarya Buyuksehir Belediyespor, which has just risen to the Turkish League at the 2017 summer. At their first season in the 1st tier, Sakarya Belediyespor had a huge success with reaching the playoffs and Metecan was one of the biggest stars of the roster. He says that 2017-18 season played a huge part for his career:

“I always remember the 2017-18 season with great memories. This season might be the most crucial season for my improvement as a basketball player. In Sakarya, of course coach Selcuk Ernak’s role for my improvement was very crucial. He trust me and gave me a lot of responsibility on the court. He helped me a lot especially for improving my low post offense skills. In that roster, there were also very important players like Moustapha Fall, Nathan Boothe, CJ Harris and Can Korkmaz. I can say that it was the season that made my career rise again.”

After his great performance with Sakarya Belediyespor, Metecan Birsen took the attention of Anadolu Efes and had a 1 season journey with Efes. Later on he joined to Pinar Karsiyaka roster at the 2019 summer, which is a milestone for his career. Metecan evaluates his 2 years of Karsiyaka experience as follows:

“2 years that i spent in Karsiyaka were a very important period for me, especially for mature of my basketball. Coach Ufuk Sarica also trust me like Selcuk Ernak and he made me feel that confidence on the basketball court. I responded him with my performance. Because of the passion of Karsiyaka fans, the atmosphere was great on the Mustafa Kemal Ataturk arena. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, i’ve played on them only half season but even that half season was enough to feel their passion. We played Basketball Champions League final too. The final game that we lost the championship is the game i get upset the most in my career. Although that loss, we had a lot of success during the 2 season period. At the 2019-20 season, we were the Turkish League leaders before the cancellation of the season due to COVID-19. Karsiyaka days and coach Ufuk Sarica made a huge impact for my career.”

Due to his great performance with Karsiyaka, last summer Metecan Birsen signed a 2 year contract with Fenerbahce. Although the big expectations, firstly things did not go well for him and Fenerbahce. After some of tough losses and injuries of Nando De Colo and Jan Vesely, Turkish giants react to this situation with back to back wins and became a contender for the EuroLeague playoffs. Metecan describes that tough situation form his perspective:

“Sometimes there are processes where you turn the disadvantages you experience as a team into an advantage. Of course nobody wants these kind of injuries but during that back to back wins, every part of the team gave their best efforts. Due to the injuries of our stars Nando De Colo and Jan Vesely, we knew that if we put on the maximum performance we could create something. Our huge effort was the key part of that back to back wins.”

After some of huge wins against CSKA Moscow, Olympiakos and Real Madrid, Russian teams are banned from the EuroLeague competition and Fenerbahce’s 4 wins against the Russian clubs were deleted. Metecan Birsen comments on that situation’s mental effects for the team:

“Of course that situation effected us negatively. However, there were other teams were negatively affected for these reasons. As a result things were happened like this and sometimes things happen that are beyond our control in life. For that reason, i try not to worry too much about things that i cannot control in life. We played the remaining games in EuroLeague but unfortunately we lost some of the games that we needed to win. İt was a good lesson through the way of success, next season we will be much better i think.”

One of the Fenerbahce’s biggest legends Jan Vesely has decided to leave the team after great 8 seasons. After Vesely’s departure, Metecan Birsen comments on his former teammate’s importance for the team:

I had the chance of playing with Jan Vesely for a season and i can say that he was one of the best players that i’ve ever played with. He’s also a very helpful and friendly person off the court. There is no need to explain what he has done on the court, he is not a selfish player at all. Of course his departure will effect our team but new additions will try to fill his absence somehow.”

Although winning the Turkish League, Fenerbahce decided to part ways with coach Sasha Djordjevic and signed with one of the most successful coaches in the world, Dimitris Itoudis. Metecan Birsen talks about their new coach with these words:

“First of all, maybe we couldn’t reach to all of our goals with Sasha Djordjevic but as i mentioned before, he is a great human being. I wish him success for his future career. Of course i’m very excited to be working with Dimitris Itoudis. He’s a great coach. He was the assistant of Zeljko Obradovic for so many years. I think that coach Itoudis’ system is quite similar with Zeljko Obradovic, whom i worked with for a season. I look very forward to working with him.”

2021-22 basketball season has came to an end but for the players but there is also FIBA World Cup Qualifiers and EuroBasket 2022 tournament. As a big part of the Turkish National Team, Metecan Birsen comments on his expectations with the national team:

“I was waiting this summer for a while as a Turkish National Team player. I think we have a great roster with high quality NBA and EuroLeague players. I believe that we’ll turn this advantage into a medal this year. We’ll try to go step by step. We have a great team, if we can create a good team chemistry i’m sure that we’ll have a great synergy with our coach.”