Jon Diebler of Darussafaka Tekfen Istanbul entered this season as the sharpest three-point shooter in Turkish Airlines EuroLeague history, having made 51.5% of his long-range shots. He is the only player ever to make more than 80 three-pointers at a rate of 50% or higher. Darussafaka is Diebler's third EuroLeague team from Turkey, after he spend one season each with Anadolu Efes and Galatasaray, and he played two 7DAYS EuroCup seasons with Pinar Karsiyaka. Add in last season with Besiktas, and this is Diebler's seventh year in a row in Turkey. That makes him qualified to do more than just shoot, so Diebler will blog this season on Darussafaka's progress and all the interesting things that happen along the way. Enjoy!
What an exciting first two weeks of the EuroLeague season!!! Two of our first three games were on the road against some of the top teams in Europe every year: Real Madrid and CSKA Moscow. Although we lost them both, those games offered great experience for our young team. With the exception of Ray McCallum, Oguz Savas and myself, everyone else on our team is a EuroLeague rookie. We have a great group of guys who are excited to compete in the EuroLeague, and everyone is working hard. The Madrid game was tough for us because it was the first game and it came against the defending EuroLeague champions. They are one of the top teams in Europe every year, so it was a "Welcome to the EuroLeague" moment for our team. Even though we lost, there were many things that we learned about our team from this game.
"Getting our first win in the EuroLeague was great for our confidence."
Our first EuroLeague win came a week later, at our home court in Istanbul, against Buducnost. I was looking forward to this game because two of my former teammates, Earl Clark and Aaron Craft, play for Buducnost. Earl was my teammate last season in Besiktas. He is an incredible player and I think he will do great things in the EuroLeague this season. I have known Aaron since he was 10 years old. His dad was my junior high school coach growing up, and Aaron and I played one year in college together at Ohio State University. It was pretty cool to watch him develop as a player over the years and to compete against him in a game. Getting our first win in the EuroLeague was great for our confidence. We played really hard and our fans helped us a lot. Like every EuroLeague game, it was very competitive.
Two days later we played CSKA in Moscow. Not only was it our second road game of the new season, but it was also our first experience playing two EuroLeague games in the same week. For three of the four quarters, we were right with CSKA. We played really well that game, and even though we lost, it gave us some confidence to know that we can play with any team on any given night.
I'm really excited for this season with my new team and new teammates. We have a really fun group of guys who work hard. Our chemistry has been great during the preseason and through the first couple weeks of the regular season. I'm excited to be a part of Darussafaka Tekfen. I'm very familiar with the club, even though it is my first season with them, because this is my seventh straight season here in Turkey!!! It's hard to believe that I have been here that long! The time goes so fast.
"We can play with any team on any given night."
This is my fourth straight year in Istanbul, a city that my wife and I have grown to love. Those of you who have been to Istanbul know all it has to offer: great food, shopping, tourist sites, etc. The city is truly amazing. I have been very blessed to play for great clubs in this country: Karsiyaka, Anadolu Efes, Galatasaray, Besiktas, and now Darussafaka.
I hope that we have a healthy and successful season. I'm looking forward to seeing all that we can achieve. We will continue to work hard every single day and try and improve. The EuroLeague season is a tough and long one, but I'm looking forward to taking to the court each game with the guys we have and who I go to work with each day.