Women’s basketball season off with arch rivals meeting
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Galatasaray point guard Işıl Alben (C) drives to the basket while being defended by Fenerbahçe’s Birsel Vardarlı (L) and Kübra Siyahdemir (R). Hürriyet photo, Süleyman ARAT
The new season in women’s basketball starts tonight as Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray renew their rivalry.
Turkish Women’s Basketball League (TKBL) champion Fenerbahçe takes on Spor Toto Women’s Turkish Cup winner Galatasaray in tonight’s Presidential Cup at the Ankara Sports Hall.
“We will face a very important opponent at the very beginning of the season,” Galatasaray coach Ekrem Memnun said during a press conference yesterday. “It is an important meeting as a real tune-up event before the league campaign.”
Both teams, who have played in virtually every final in women’s basketball in recent years, will play tonight’s game with major changes to both teams since last season. Fenerbahçe parted ways with Greek coach George Dikeoulakos and signed Roberto Iniguez De Heredia of Spain for the head coach job.
“It is important for us to start the season with a win,” De Heredia said. “We will do our best for the win.”
The Yellow Canaries also signed Belarusian forward Anastasiya Verameyenka from Nadezhda Orenburg, Polish forward Agnieszka Bibrzycka from CCC Polkowice and Turkish guard Esra Şencebe from Beşiktaş.
Galatasaray, who suffered a disappointing defeat to its archrival in last season’s TKBL finals series, had bigger changes in its squad.
The Lions signed Spanish forward Sancho Lyttle and Belgian center Ann Wauters from Euroleague champion Ros Casares along with American guard Lindsay Whalen from ZVVZ USK Prague. The three players perform for the Atlanta Dream, the Seattle Storm and the Minnesota Lynx respectively in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) in the United States.
Another big transfer move for Galatasaray was the return of Nevriye Yılmaz, who was with the Lions for their last Turkish league title in 2001. Arguably the most successful player in Turkish women’s basketball history, the 32-year-old center had won seven consecutive league titles with Fenerbahçe from 2006 to 2012.
Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe played in four different competitions last season. Galatasaray beat its archrival to the title in the President’s Cup and Turkish Cup finals, but Fenerbahçe emerged triumphant in the Turkish League. The two rivals also met in the Euroleague Top 8, which was organized in Istanbul in March, and saw Fenerbahçe beat Galatasaray in the semifinal round.
Fenerbahçe eventually finished fourth in the Top 8 while Galatasaray finished fifth.
This is the seventh time the two rivals will meet in the Presidential Cup final with both teams winning three times.
The game starts at 7 p.m. and will be televised live on Sky Türk 360.