Anadolu Efes, Beşiktaş set for TBL final series

Anadolu Efes, Beşiktaş set for TBL final series

ISTANBUL - Anatolia News Agency
Anadolu Efes, Beşiktaş set for TBL final series

Anadolu Efes center Stanko Barac (R) tries to score while being defended by Beşiktaş Milangaz center Erwin Dudley during a regular season game between the two teams.

Anadolu Efes and Beşiktaş Milangaz will tip off tonight for game one of the best-of-seven Beko Turkish Basketball League (TBL) finals.

The two Istanbul teams are meeting for the championship seven years after last doing so; Efes won that series four games to one, and Beşiktaş had not advanced to the final again until this year.

Anadolu Efes, who finished the regular season in third spot, will have home-court advantage in the series over Beşiktaş Milangaz, who finished fourth.

The first two games will be played at the Sinan Erdem Dome, while all subsequent matches will be played at Abdi İpekçi Arena.

Sinan Erdem Dome is home to Efes, but Beşiktaş Milangaz also played its semifinal matches against Galatasaray Medical Park there.

Efes, Turkey’s most decorated basketball team with 13 league titles, hopes to end its tumultuous season with a trophy. The Istanbul giant last won the title in the 2008-2009 campaign and is experiencing one of the poorest periods of its history, having claimed just one title in the last six years.

Beşiktaş Milangaz coach Ergin Ataman was at the Efes helm when the team won the title in 2009.

Beşiktaş Milangaz, meanwhile, is already having the best season in the club’s history and wants to cap its illustrious year with the ultimate prize. After winning its first-ever Turkish Cup, Beşiktaş Milangaz also emerged victorious in the Eurochallenge, the third-tier European club competition. If Beşiktaş wins the league title over Efes, it will give the club just its second TBL trophy following the 1974-1975 victory.

The club has finished the season runner-up on five occasions in addition to the 2005 disappointment.

Tough path
Beşiktaş Milangaz overcame rival Galatasaray Medical Park 3-1 in a nerve-racking semifinal series, while Anadolu Efes needed to win a deciding match away from home to dispatch Banvit 3-2.

The two teams had their rough patches during the season as well.

Beşiktaş Milangaz lost superstar guard Deron Williams and Turkish international center Semih Erden in November when the two players returned to the NBA after the lockout. While almost everybody else expected them to collapse with the departures, particularly due to the loss of Williams, the Black Eagles battled on, signing Puerto Rican guard Carlos Arroyo and forward Pops Mensah-Bonsu in place of the NBA stars.

Efes also lost Turkish forward Ersan İlyasova due to the end of the lockout, but it mostly suffered because its multimillion-dollar squad hardly lived up to expectations most of the season. The team was very active during the summer, signing Slovenian guard Sasha Vujacic, Serbian forward Dusko Savanovic, Bosnian center Stanko Barac and U.S. forward Tarence Kinsey. After months of underperforming, the team showed signs of improvement with Greek Ilias Zouros replacing Ufuk Sarıca as head coach and finding its form right before the playoffs.