Galatasaray, Fener to battle on Euro stage
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe have played four times since the start of the season and both have won two times. The two teams will play in a crucial match in the Euroleague Women Final Eight in Istanbul. AA PhotoThe Euroleague Women’s Final Eight is likely to play host to some of its most heated moments tonight when Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe renew their century-old rivalry on the continental level.
The two Turkish teams, who are the opposing sides in the country’s most storied and fiercest sports rivalry, will play at Istanbul’s Abdi İpekçi Arena tonight, with each looking to gain a crucial advantage on the road to the final of the top women’s basketball tournament in Europe.
The two Turkish squads are in Group A along with Rivas Ecopolis of Spain and Beretta Famila Schio of Italy.
Spartak Moscow will take on Spain’s Ros Casares in another highly-intriguing battle in Group B, while Poland’s Wisla will meet Russia’s Ekaterinburg.
Spartak rallied to beat Wisla 77-70 in the opening game of the five-game competition yesterday.
After the three-day semifinal round, the winners of both groups will meet in the April 1 final.
Spartak boasts one of the world’s best players in Sue Bird, while Ros Casares has also a star-studded squad with center Ann Wauters and forwards Sancho Lyttle and Lauren Jackson.
While it can be said the outcome of the Spartak-Ros Casares game will likely decide the winner of Group B, the same could also be said for Group A and the Fenerbahçe-Galatasaray clash.
The two Turkish teams have upped the level of their competition in the last two years, especially with Galatasaray increasing its investments to match those of Fenerbahçe. The latter won six of its nine Turkish titles between 2005 and 2011, but Galatasaray is seeking to dislodge its archrival as the powerhouse in Turkish basketball. The Lions have the league record of 11 titles, but have not won the national title in more than a decade.
Fenerbahçe won the league title over Galatasaray last year after a thrilling series, but just when everybody thought things could not get any more thrilling, the transfer of Diana Taurasi was finalized.
Taurasi, who left Fenerbahçe after an Ankara laboratory ruled that the world-class guard had used a banned substance, signed a contract for Galatasaray after her ban was overturned. The 29-year-old, who will be among Team USA’s biggest assets in its title defense in the 2012 London Olympic Games, is the top scorer in Euroleague Women this season and will be one to watch.
The two rivals have met four times this season, and both teams have won twice. There is little doubt that tonight’s game will change the balance in favor of one.