Anadolu Efes takes Greek test in Euroleague

Anadolu Efes takes Greek test in Euroleague

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Anadolu Efes takes Greek test in Euroleague

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Anadolu Efes seeks its first win in the Euroleague Top 16 when it hosts Panathinaikos today.

The Istanbul team takes on its Greek rival at the Abdi İpekçi Arena in a crucial Group E game in the top level club competition in European basketball.

Efes comes off a tough road loss in Moscow and Panathinaikos held on to a one-point win against Zalgiris Kaunas. Coach Oktay Mahmuti acknowledged that the Istanbul team plans to remember its winning ways in its first game in 2013.

“We can only focus on winning this game in front of our fans,” he said. “Every game in the Top 16 is difficult but we want to win the first game of the new year.”

The match was labeled as the game of the week by the Euroleague, meaning that it has the highest level of importance in this week’s Top 16 games.

Panathinaikos leads the all-time series 11-6 since both teams’ first matchup in 1993. However, Efes has a 4-3 record against the Greens and won both teams’ last two matchups in Istanbul. Furthermore, Panathinaikos will be without star guard and former Euroleague Most Valuable Player Dimitris Diamantidis.

“It’s going to be a tough game against a tough opponent and we are going to miss Diamantidis,” Panathinaikos guard Roko Ukic said. “So, everybody got to try to make a little bit more, because he is our leader and it’s not going to be easy.”

Guard problem

With Diamantidis sidelined, Ukic and Marcus Banks will share the Greens’ point guard duties. Former Fenerbahçe guard Ukic is an key player with size and one-on-one skills. Banks is more athletic, helping on the defensive board.

Banks will probably start to guard Efes’ go-to guy, playmaker Jordan Farmar, whose deep range, driving skills and high basketball IQ make him a natural-born mismatch.

Jason Kapono matched the expectations in his Euroleague debut last week, confirming his reputation as an outstanding three-point shooter with four-for-six behind the arc.

“The game at home against Panathinaikos is very important for us,” Efes forward Sinan Güler said. “We are aware of our capacity. To expose this we are supposed to win all the games at home. I hope we start showing that with this game.”

In an other Group E game tonight, Real Madrid will meet Brose Baskets.

Elsewhere, Maccabi Electra hosts Caja Laboral and BC Khimki takes on Barcelona Regal in Moscow in the Group F.