In modern basketball, being able to control the boards is mandatory for any elite team to succeed. Darussafaka Tekfen Istanbul made it a priority this season, bringing in players able to dominate at rebounds. That decision is paying off, as the team is one win away from reaching the 7DAYS EuroCup Playoffs.
Darussafaka head coach Selcuk Ernak confirmed this priority four games into the regular season, after a 26-point road win against Germani Brescia Leonessa. That night, his team broke a EuroCup record, pulling down 41 defensive rebounds, the best mark ever in a non-overtime game and the second-best mark in competition history.
"When we were building this team, rebounding was one of the priorities when we were picking players," Ernak said after the game. "Let's say this is a lesson we took from last year. All the games that we won so far, rebounding made a big difference."
One of Darussafaka's off-season signings, center Johnathan Hamilton, is also making history on the offensive glass. Hamilton is on track to become the best offensive rebounder ever in the EuroCup. Going into Top 16 Round 6, Hamilton has the highest offensive rebounds average ever for 10 games or more in the EuroCup, with 4.0 per game. The single-season record is shared by Vladimir Golubovic of Aykon TED Ankara Kolejliler and K'Zell Wesson of Cholet Basket, each of whom averaged 3.8 offensive rebounds. Wesson achieved that figure in the competition's original 2002-03 season, and Golubovic matched it 11 years later, in the 2013-14 campaign. Golubovic, however, played 20 games, twice as many as Wesson.
Hamilton pulled down 9 offensive rebounds on November 20, 2019, in a game that Darussafaka lost at the buzzer on an 18-meter game-winner by Klemen Prepelic of Joventut Badalona. Hamilton's total was the best this season and just 2 offensive boards shy of the all-time record. Chris Anstey had 11 offensive rebounds for Ural Great Perm in a loss against BCM Gravelines on October 29, 2002, just three rounds into the competition's original season.
Hamilton has grabbed almost as many offensive (56) as defensive rebounds (60) this season, showing he is a true specialist. Darussafaka is the best rebounding team in the EuroCup (38.9 rpg.) but ranks second in offensive rebounds (12.6), trailing Rytas Vilnius (13.1). Darussafaka is 6-1 when outrebounding its opponent, 1-5 when getting outrebounded, and 1-1 when tied on the boards. The only team able to outrebound Darussafaka in a loss was Nanterre, which won the battle of the boards 33-38 but lost 72-65 in Istanbul in Regular Season Round 2.
Hamilton has a good shot at becoming the best offensive rebounder ever in a EuroCup campaign. Not a bad goal to achieve in your rookie season in the competition.