Efes eyes Euroleague victory against Zagreb
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Anadolu Efes’ Sasha Vujacic attacks on Olympiacos’ Startos Perperoglu in a Euroleague basketball match on Oct 19.Two teams go in opposite directions will meet for the first time tonight, as Anadolu Efes Istanbul hosts Cedevita Zagreb in Istanbul in a Turkish Airlines Euroleague game.
Efes thrashed defending champion Olympiacos last week and wants to add another home win to stay in a good position to advance. Cedevita is still looking for its first win, which makes the team more dangerous. The game will feature Vlado Ilievski, who played for Efes last season, returning to Istanbul in Cedevita colors.
Cedevita head coach Bozidar Maljkovic will rely on Mickael Gelabale to lead his team against Efes. Gelabale has been unstoppable until now and will get plenty of help on both wings from veteran bomber Marino Bazdaric, sharpshooter Bracey Wright and up-and-coming small forward Luka Babic.
Efes has a battery of good shooters ready to score in many ways, such as Sasha Vujacic, Jamon Lucas and Birkan Batuk, but Sinan Güler will see most of the playing time against Gelabale due to his athleticism, experience and well-known defensive skills.
Game beginning crucial
“We will play against a good team and a roster which has got Euroleague experience,” Efes coach Oktay Mahmuti told Euroleague’s official website. “Cedevita Zagreb is playing basketball very well and they know what they want in every part of the court. But we will play in front of our fans. With their support we want to win,” he added.
Anadolu Efes player Doğuş Balbay also acknowledged that it will not be an easy game for the Istanbul club.
“We are preparing seriously for this game as we always do against any Euroleague team,” said Balbay. “As we did in the Olympiacos game, we want to work hard from the beginning of the game so as to grab an easy win.” Maljkovic praised his opponent and his opposite number.
“That team is built to become a Euroleague champion. They are led by the best Turkish coach, Oktay Mahmuti, who is also my friend. They don’t have weak spots,” said Maljkovic. Zagreb needs to play aggressively to obtain a result, he added.
“Efes Pilsen plays very aggressive basketball. With an aggressive defense [alone] you can beat Olympiacos by 30 points. In order to get a win in Istanbul we have to play better than in Ljubljana.”
The team started the season with many players that were not fully prepared because of injuries, said the Zagreb coach, voicing his doubt on whether the team could cope with Efes’ strength.
“I’m not sure if my team is ready to play hard, one-on-one defense during all 40 minutes in Istanbul. But I expect us to play that way and I think we are able to play better than we played against Olimpija [Ljubljana],” Maljkovic added.