By Antonis Stroggylakis/ firstname.lastname@example.org/ Twitter.com/AStroggylakis
The EuroLeague season for Anadolu Efes reached its end on Tuesday (2/5) night, in “Peace and Friendship” arena of Piraeus, Greece.
After a beautifully competitive series and the cherry on top of the pie courtesy of physical to the extreme skirmish in Game 5 clash against Olympiacos, the Turkish team was defeated 3 – 2, being subsequently eliminated from the Final Four.
Efes is packed with prime overseas talent (of both American and European ballers) thus most of its players will fight their battles to gain an entrance to the Final Four during the next season.
But it appears that Cedi Osman might not be among them.
“Well, I have my goals. I want to go to the NBA and play there,” Osman told Eurohoops when he was asked if this was the last we’ll see from him in EuroLeague for the next couple of years.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are ready to welcome the Turkish swingman in their ranks with wide open arms. At least that’s what we can safely deduce from the opinion David Griffin has for him. In a recent interview, the Cavs GM spoke highly of Osman, mentioning he’s “excited” about him. Actually, he characterized the Cavs stash as “a good kid who’s about all the right, substantive things,” praising his character and the potential for bringing a solid “3+D” impact on NBA floors.
“I read what he [David Griffin] said. It made me very…. very happy to read such things. What he said about me is pretty big actually. And it gives me quite the motivation,” Osman said with his face gleaming.
With the EuroLeague season is now on the books, the 22-year-old wing made a retrospect of his progress, not hesitating to delve into some deep self-criticism.
“Well, I can say that in the regular season I played better than these five games. I can’t say I was any good in those. The performances I put on the floor weren’t really me and I’m very sad about it. I didn’t play as well as I should.”
Osman began the 2016/2017 EuroLeague in an intriguing fashion, dropping a career-high 22 points (plus 6 rebounds) during just the second round of the regular season vs Olympiacos in Piraeus. While he continued performing vigorously and often showed strong glimpses of his talent, he struggled to preserve an adequate level of consistency that would allow him extra minutes, a more significant role and the compass to find a reliable rhythm in his game.
He completed the EuroLeague regular season averaging 7.4 points and 2.7 rebounds in 18:30 minutes per game while finishing the playoffs with 5.4 points and 3.2 rebounds.
“I will continue to improve, hustle, practice and work on developing myself. I will be better,” he affirmed.
The series against Olympiacos left him with a bitter feeling and not only because his team lost the ticket to the Final Four. Efes had managed to beat the Greek squad in Piraeus, then take a 2 – 1 advantage. Game 4 was a golden opportunity for them to advance in the first EuroLeague Final Four in franchise history, surrounded by thousands of fans in a sold-out “Abdi Ipekci”. But the Reds came back from a 12-point deficit in that match forcing a Game 5 at home which they won to advance.
“Actually I can honestly say that we played very good in Game 5. We knew that Olympiacos will play very tough at home and we tried to respond back. But… I don’t know. Obviously we made some simple mistakes. I think that hurt us. And then the elimination hurt us. Overall, I think we played very well throughout the EuroLeague season and the playoffs in general. We showed to everybody that we are a good team.”
Following defeat in Game 5, Efes center Bryant Dunston implied that the officiating was a bit hostile to him. “I didn’t even need to shower,” he told me when commenting on the fact that he didn’t even spend 16 minutes on the floor due to foul trouble. Head coach Velimir Perasovic also said that the referees were “tough” on his players, allowing Olympiacos‘ steelclad defense on the borders of foul.
“We know that Olympiacos will play hard” Osman commented on the matter. “Bryant and Alex they didn’t allow them to play hard. And for us it was difficult. They are tough guys and they make hard screens. But some of them were illegal screens. It’s hard to break them and when we made those screens they called offensive fouls. But Olympiacos had the home advantage in this game. It’s OK. We should have responded by playing harder.”
Osman finished the game with 11 points, all of them in the first half. He was the main reason Efes went to the locker rooms up 41 – 37 but he and his teammates fell behind after a 0 – 9 third quarter entrance by their opponents. They never regained the lead.
“Like I said, I need to improve. And I believe I will. The whole team will be much better in the Turkish League playoffs”, Cedi Osman promised.