Credit: D.Repečka/BasketNews
Credit D.Repečka/BasketNews

"A leader who is ruled by emotions produces a team whose trademark is the roller-coaster - ups and downs in performance; unpredictability and undependability in effort and concentration; one day good, the next bad." 

Player of the Game
Nando De Colo
Nando De Colo
Points 21
Accuracy 8-15
Rebounds 3
Assists 5

"Wooden on Leadership- Chapter 7:Emotion is Your Enemy"

Watching Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul this season is by no means a smooth activity. There will be ups and downs, thrills and bloopers.  

They always find a way to put themselves into some sort of a precarious position instead of gliding to victory with full speed when the lane is wide open.

It is just the way this team is. They love adventure. Yet, Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv was their sixth victim in their last six games. They got the killer instinct back.

 "This was a good win, especially from the defensive aspect," emphasized coach Sasha Djordjevic. "But we did not use our fouls in the way that we should have. We could have stopped Wilbekin at the end of the 2nd quarter with those. We must understand those details, that's very important."

Everything seemed to be on the right track for Fenerbahce at the end of the 3rd quarter. Home side leading 70-51 as they were ruling the game, the fans were relieved, happy and joyful. Maccabi looked discouraged and just on the brink of surrender. Then something happened. 

In the very beginning of the 4th quarter, Maccabi found an easy three after finding an opening against the needlessly ferocious Fenerbahce press in the full court.

In the next couple of possessions, Marko Guduric traveled and then selected a bad shot. Djordjevic took a timeout to reorganize his team, to no avail.

Fenerbahce's 8 seconds violation was capitalized by James Nunnally's 3-and-one play from an almost from a broken play. Nasty turnovers followed bad shots, and eventually, the little sparkle by old friend James Nunnally and Scottie Wilbekin, which made a 20-6 series, cut the margin to 5, 2:18 left on the clock.

3-pointers this season

Points made: 7,8
Accuracy: 34,2%
Place in standings: 15
Record max: 11
Record min: 2
Most made 3FGs: Scottie Wilbekin

"Emotions are our enemies," said Djordjevic. "These are not my words, but actually John Wooden's."

"You are playing against good teams; it is normal that they react. But I'm concerned because of the way that it happened. We must not stop; the ball must not stop. We were waiting for someone to resolve the game; we just have to keep playing our game," the Serbian coach added. 

It may look unfair to put all the blame on some players, but Devin Booker might be the epitome of this 'roller-coaster' characteristic of the team. His 22 points were his highest since 2020 October (vs. Real Madrid, 22 points as well). Most of them were quite flashy, including that penultimate dunk.

But late in the 3rd quarter, he got a pointless technical after objecting to one decision. Those bad turnovers in the 4th quarter did not look good. 

Make no mistake: Booker is not alone in that variety of clumsiness. Jan Vesely's 3rd and 4th fouls came back to back and looked avoidable. He was lucky in that overkill tactical foul not to get called for a flagrant. 

"We show emotions, and it is good sometimes, but we cannot get trapped by it. With this question, you gave the answer to why the coaching job is so difficult. And you are talking to someone who was not that emotional during his playing days. You can imagine what I'm asking from the players," Djordjevic continued.

But there was another bright side: Those panicky moments that cost Fenerbahce many games previously (PAO, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Olympiacos, and Efes games in particular), but they figured out how to recover from those slippery situations as their recent records show.

"We need every learning lesson. We've been tested, we've been in this situation before," Pierria Henry noted. "All these losing streak did not break our locker room. We came closer together. We gonna trust and believe our system."

Against Maccabi, the way out from that mini-crisis was Nando de Colo. The French guard scored a season-high 21 points and 5 assists, but perhaps, the shot selections in those decisive possessions were quite critical. 

Once again, De Colo remained calm and showed his leadership skills. Once again, he was the one who could control the emotions and channelize his expertise to steer Fenerbahce for another victory. That is the leader without emotions that Wooden described.

"We can control the game much better," said De Colo. "When we are up by 20, we have to keep the focus. We started the season with a new team. We needed to adjust; it takes time. But we are on a good way." 

"That is an important win for us because we work hard every day to get back where we should be," he added.

Emotional, euphoric, and sometimes clumsy. Fenerbahce is on the brink of a very surprising recovery. With another win against Baskonia at home, playoff hopes would be sparkled back.

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Fenerbahce Istanbul
Maccabi Tel Aviv
Field goals

Best players

Devin   Booker
22 PTS
10/16 FG
0/0 FT
James  Nunnally
18 PTS
6/13 FG
4/6 FT
Fenerbahce Istanbul
Few players
Ante  Zizic
11 REB
Nando De Colo
5 As
2 TO
30 MIN
Keenan  Evans
7 As
1 TO
30 MIN
Nando De Colo
25 EFF
73% 2P%
0% 3P%
Keenan  Evans
17 EFF
57% 2P%
33% 3P%