Euroleague excitement mounts with season draw
AP photoThe 2015-16 Turkish Airlines Euroleague draw was made on July 9 in Barcelona, and all 24 teams now know their rivals to battle to reach the Last 16.
Four Turkish teams, Fenerbahçe Ülker, Efes Anadolu, Pınar Karşıyaka and Darüşşafaka Doguş, were placed in four separate groups, according to the regulation that prevents match-ups between teams from the same country.
The ultimate goal of all the teams is to arrive in Berlin in mid-May, where the 2016 Euroleague champion will be crowned in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four at the Mercedes-Benz Arena.
“Our immediate thoughts are that we were not too lucky,” said Maurizio Gherardini, the general manager of Fenerbahçe Ülker, after the draw. “We were drawn against a Euroleague champion, a Eurocup champion and an Adriatic League champion. On paper it is the toughest group.”
Fenerbahçe Ülker will fight in Group A against Real Madrid, Khimki Moscow, Crvena Zvezda Telekom, FC Bayern Munich and Strasbourg.
Anadolu Efes, another Euroleague regular, will face off against Olympiacos, Laboral Kutxa Vitoria Gasteiz, EA7 Emporio Armani, Cedevita Zagreb and Limoges CSP.
“The regular season is always somehow balanced with strong teams,” said Efes General Manager Engin Özerhun.
Pınar Karşıyaka, last year’s Turkish national champion, has been placed in Group C along with strong rivals Barcelona, Panathinaikos, Lokomotiv Kuban, Zalgiris Kaunas and Stelmet Zielona Gora.
“It’s a great group. We were looking forward to getting Real Madrid or Barcelona. We got Barcelona, so we are happy. We know the other teams and we have had certain preparation matches. For Euroleague games, we invite fans from the other teams to come to İzmir to watch. We will be happy to host them,” said Volkan Özsökmen, the director of international relations at Karşıyaka.
Doğuş Darüşşafaka, which has been given a wildcard for the 2015-2016 season, has been placed in a group with CSKA Moscow, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Unicaja Malaga, Brose Baskets Bamberg and Dinamo Banco di Sardegna Sassari.
“We are a historical club,” said Darüşşafaka Dogus Istanbul basketball manager and former NBA player İbrahim Kutluay.
“For us it is a big honor to be in the Euroleague, so today’s draw was good. We have a really difficult group.
CSKA Moscow and Maccabi are the best teams in the Euroleague. They have more expectations and better experience. But we will fight to get to the Last 16. First we have to create a good team, then we will see,” Kutluay added.