Anadolu Efes set to meet Real Madrid for group lead
ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
EPA photoAnadolu Efes welcomes Real Madrid in a Turkish Airlines Euroleague game Feb. 14. when the two teams will battle for the top of the Group E.
In what is called the “Game of the Week” in the Euroleague, Efes will hope to capitalize on its home advantage and beat Madrid to take over the top spot in the Top 16 stage.
Real Madrid is the only undefeated team left in the Top 16 and leads Group E at 6-0, but Efes is on a five-game winning streak, which is its best Euroleague run since the 2004-05 season.
Madrid has a 6-1 road record against Efes and has beaten its opponent in Istanbul in each of the last four seasons. Efes’s only home win against Madrid came in 2004.
Efes forward Sinan Güler says the team is aware that the strength that Real has.
“We will play against Real Madrid, who is unbeaten in the Top 16,” Güler was quoted as saying on the Euroleague website. “On the way to the playoffs to get the advantage we are supposed to add one more victory. We want to put the good basketball on court which we did recently and win the game.”
Efes will try to stop Madrid’s high-scoring duo, Rudy Fernandez and Jaycee Carroll, who combined for 51 points and 18 rebounds against CSKA Moscow in Top 16 Game 6.
Small forward Carlos Suarez and defensive ace Marty Pocius give Coach Pablo Laso more options at the wings.
However, Efes has his counter weapons in Sasha Vujacic, Josh Shipp and Sinan Güler. The Istanbul side will also boast Vujacic and Jordan Farmar on offense.
“I am expecting a difficult game against Anadolu Efes, because they are a great team,” Laso said. “Their roster has dangeours and decisive players in the paint like Erden, or talented ones like Savanovic and then, outside, they also have a leader in Farmar, who played a great game against us [as a Maccabi Tel Aviv player] last year, or Vujacic, both great shooters.
“I am worried with our opponent in such a tough competition as the Euroleague. I hope Real Madrid keeps its momentum of the season so far,” the Spanish coach added. “Anadolu Efes is a team full of stars, with players capable of showing their talent at any given moment. Everybody knows this team can fight for the final title. They had good wins in the Top 16 and I think they are showing their better version in this second stage of the competition. We are well aware of that and we know it won’t be easy.”
Coach Oktay Mahmuti acknowledged that the Istanbul team will need a strong fan support at the Abdi İpekçi Arena.
“We will play a very important game against Real Madrid. It will be a fight for the top of the group,” Mahmuti said. “Our aim is to keep our good start to the Top 16 steady and try to get the sixth consecutive win. Anadolu Efes always aims to be at the top, whatever the competition. We want to stay at the top by winning against Real Madrid.
“We need our fans’ support very much. With their support we want to make a historical victory night at Abdi Ipekci Arena,” the coach said.
In other Group E games, Alba Berlin hosts Unicaja Malaga, CSKA Moscow meets Panathinaikos and Brose Baskets welcomes Zalgiris Kaunas.
In the Group F, leader Barcelona Regal visits Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv.