Efes, Galatasaray set for all-Turkish face off
Veteran Turkish guard Kerem Tunçeri (10) of Anadolu Efes passes the ball while surrounded by Galatasaray Medical Park players during a Turkish Basketball League game in this file photo from Nov 13, 2011. Anadolu Efes won the game 69-61.Two Turkish teams, Anadolu Efes and Galatasaray Medical Park, meet in their first group game at the Top 16 stage of the Turkish Airlines Euroleague tonight.
Efes, a regular fixture on this stage of the top-level club competition in European basketball, will welcome Euroleague rookies at the Sinan Erdem Dome.
The two teams are placed in the Group E of the Top 16 stage, which also boasts title contenders Olympiacos and CSKA Moscow.
The match will be the first time two Turkish teams have met in the competition in more than a decade.
The last such matchup at the top-level competition took place in February 2000, when Efes beat Ülker 95-74.
Efes coach Ufuk Sarıca said it will be an interesting match between two Turkish sides.
“Two Turkish teams meeting in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague will make a beautiful basketball night first of all,” he said, official Euroleague website reported. “We will play a Euroleague game, not different for us than the others. But we want to start the Top 16 games by winning and maintaining a little advantage.
“Galatasaray Medical Park is a very good team. We absolutely must play well at every minute of the game.”
Sarıca’s Galatasaray counterpart, Oktay Mahmuti, led Efes to the 2001 SuproLeague final four and coached the team in four Euroleague seasons from 2001 to 2005.
This game also features a total of five players who previously played for their opponent – Cenk Akyol, Ermal Kuqo, Kerem Tunçeri from Efes and Preston Shumpert and Ender Arslan from Galatasaray.
“It will be a very important game because it is the first game of the Top 16. Both teams know each other very well, coaches and players too,” Kuqo said. “So it will be a chess game. The team that prepares better for the game will be the one that wins. The most important thing for us is to fight and play smart basketball. If we do this, I think that we will be able to win.”
Fenerbahçe Ülker, the third Turkish team in the competition, was set to open its Top 16 campaign against Unics Kazan yesterday. The game was still in progress as the Hürriyet Daily News went to print.
Fenerbahçe is in the Group G, where Italian Emporio Armani vs. Panathinaikos of Greece game will be played tonight.
In the Group F, Real Madrid will visit fellow Spanish side Unicaja.
Title contender Barcelona Regal will play against Italy’s Bennet Cantu, while Zalgiris of Lithuania hosts Israeli Maccabi Electra in the Group H.