Pops Mensah-Bonsu admits he’s out to join a select club this weekend and become only the third Briton ever win a European men’s club prize.
The Londoner leads Turkish side Besiktas into the Eurochallenge semi-finals on Friday night in Debrecen against Hungarian side Szolnok with the winners facing either Chalon of France or Triumph Moscow in Sunday’s final.
Only Andy Betts and Robert Archibald – who won the Eurocup with Joventut Badalona – have tasted continental success in the past.
The Great Britain international, who will be one of the fulcrums of the national side in this summer’s OIympic Games, is confident the Istanbul side can continue their rise at home and abroad.
“When we won the Turkish Cup, it was the first time in Besiktas history. So if we win a European title, we’d be making history again. We try not to let that consume us. We try not to let it be our driving force. Everybody wants to be a winner. Everybody wants to succeed.”
Should Besiktas prevail, it would be only the side time a Turkish club has lifted a continental crown despite the strength of the domestic game. Not since 1996 – when Efes won the Korac Cup – has a major prize headed there.
Szolnok, the nominal hosts, are the rank outsiders. That means nothing, says Mensah-Bonsu.
“Hopefully on Sunday we’ll be hoisting that trophy but we’ll see. It’s not like a play-off series where you can play seven games and the best team always wins. Anybody can play well for 40 minutes. Everyone has to be clicking on their day and we hope it will be us.”
Friday: Eurochallenge, semi-finals (Debrecen). Szolnok v Besiktas (5pm), Chalon v Triumph Moscow (7.30)
Both games live and for free on fibaeuropetv.com
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