Euroleague Basketball is proud to announce that Tuncay Özilhan, President of Anadolu Efes Sports Club, has been voted the Executive of the Year for the 2012-13 season by his peers throughout the Turkish Airlines Euroleague. Mr. Özilhan has been at the forefront of ongoing efforts to promote Anadolu Efes Istanbul and the sport of basketball with an array of unique marketing and communications initiatives that have helped raise the profile of the brand locally and internationally. Through his leadership, Efes has become one of the most recognized basketball teams in Europe and a leading member of the Euroleague this century.
Under Mr.Özilhan, the Efes name has become synonymous with basketball excellence in one of the world's great markets for the sport, Turkey. Although the club was not founded until 1976 and didn't reach the Turkish first division until three years later, it has since blazed a trail as the country's most-crowned basketball team and Turkey’s first in any team sport to win a European trophy, the 1996 Korac Cup.
Mr. Özilhan was a catalyst in that process and in consolidating the club's position in basketball since then. To start the new century, Efes became the first - and still the only -Turkish team to reach a Final Four. It has continued to compete consistently at the highest levels by reaching the Top 16 in 11 of the last 12 Euroleague seasons and making its return to the playoffs this spring, only succumbing in the fifth game on the road to eventual champion Olympiacos Piraeus.
Off the court, Mr. Özilhan and his club have strived for the same consistency while constantly innovating to bring its fans at home and abroad closer to the team each year. In Istanbul, that has meant an in-arena experience that has made enthusiastic partners of its loyal followers in the team's success.
This season, Efes produced a ground-breaking video that went viral on the Internet, starring its fans in a performance staged along with an orchestra that surprised the team's unsuspecting players, who thought they were attending a classical music concert. Then, the musicians started playing a popular fan song, "More Beautiful than You", and audience members started singing and showing their Efes jerseys and banners, ending with a rousing finale as the players realized the whole performance was a surprise just for them.
More than 145 people worked for more than two months on the project and 750 total were part of the performance, which was recorded by 20 cameras, many hidden in the concert hall to avoid tipping off the players. It was the latest example of how Efes, under the direction of Mr. Özilhan, has synergized the team and its fans in novel ways and made basketball a vibrant ingredient in the life of one of the world's biggest cities.