Pops Mensah-Bonsu is averaging a double-double and ranks among EuroChallenge leaders in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots for Besiktas. Will capturing the EuroChallenge Cup on Sunday pave the way for the road back to the NBA?
Pops Mensah-Bonsu has had an on-off again relationship with the NBA and sticking around the league.
But if he keeps playing like he has this season for Besiktas Milangaz in the Turkish Basketball League and even today at the EuroChallenge 2012 Final Four Final, the 6-foot-9 forward just might end up back on the radar of some front offices in the NBA this offseason.
At this point in his career and 28-years old, it could be his last shot to make it count in the NBA.
Keep handling his business overseas like he has this season in Istanbul, Turkey.
Mensah-Bonsu has played for six seasons with five different teams -- Dallas, San Antonio, Toronto, Houston and New Orleans. He's seen time in the D-League (Fort Worth Flyers, Austin Toros) and has certainly made the international rounds as well, playing for Benetton Treviso, CB Granada, DKV Joventut and CSKA Moscow before earning the final roster spot with the New Orleans Hornets for the 2010-11 season.
Four months and 7 games later with the Hornets, Mensah-Bonsu was out of NBA again as New Orleans waived the London, England native, but he wasn't unemployed long as Mensah-Bonsu inked a deal with ASVEL in the French Pro A league.
Active and aggressive, Mensah-Bonsu's game was at ease with ASVEL.
All was going well -- thanks to a 27 point and 13 rebound debut for Mensah-Bonsu -- until the first round of the playoffs for ASVEL. That's when he dislocated his shoulder, shut it down for the season and then spent the next six months rehabbing the injury. After averaging 17 points and 10 rebounds in his 12 regular season games for ASVEL, Mensah-Bonsu's basketball future was once again up in the air.
That's one area he knows all too well.
There was only one certainty: he wouldn't be able to participate at the 2011 EuroBasket in Lithuania as a member of the Great Britain national basketball team. Heartbreaking. Injuries are part of the game but so is the exhaustive letdown of not being able to compete, especially at that level.
On that stage.
Last December, the pieces of the puzzle started to fall into place for Mensah-Bonsu. He was finally healthy and after Besiktas lost both Deron Williams and Semih Erden back to the NBA after the lockout was resolved, Mensah-Bonsu seized the moment and signed in the Turkish Basketball League. Before agreeing to terms with Besiktas for the season, he'd been weighing options from both Milan and Siena in Italy, but looking back Mensah-Bonsu made the right move.
Out were Williams and Erden (and even Adam Morrison in early April). In were Mensah-Bonsu and veteran NBA point guard Carlos Arroyo. Mensah-Bonsu even made a league-wide impression at the Turkish Basketball Leagues's All Star by claiming the BEKO All Star 2012 Dunk contest.
That's coming a long way since barely sniffing the floor in New Orleans and bouncing back from the shoulder injury setback.
In 20 Turkish League games this season, Mensah-Bonsu averaged 13.7 points, 8.1 rebounds and shot 62% from the field, while posting a double-double averaged of 17.8 points, 11 rebounds and 1 block per game in 10 EuroChallenge contests. Those numbers rank among some of the best in EuroChallenge: ranks #1 in rebounding, #4 in scoring and #5 in blocked shots.
Thanks to Mensah-Bonsu, Besiktas was the first team to secure a place in the EuroChallenge 2012 Final Four in mid-March with the big man going for 25 points, 17 rebounds and shooting an amazing 83% from the field on his way to claiming
MVP honors in the quarterfinal playoff series.
But will it carry over?
On Sunday, the EuroChallenge Cup is at stake as Mensah-Bonsu and Besiktas take on the French league's Elan Chalon in the EuroChallenge Final Four finale in Debrecen, Hungary.
It's a chance for Pops Mensah-Bonsu to show he can be a champion.
Who knows -- it just might be another chance for him to prove he's worth another go-around in the NBA.
Update: Pops Mensah-Bonsu took care of business in the EuroChallenge Finals on Sunday. He finished with 26 points and 20 rebounds as Besiktas defeated Elan Chalon, 91-86, for the EuroChallenge 2012 title. Mensah-Bonsu was also voted MVP of the EuroChallenge Final Four.