Galatasaray takes a test against the best
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Galatasaray Medical Park forward Cevher Özer (R) gets a rebound while challenged by CSKA Moscow’s Alexey Shved during the two teams’ Turkish Airlines Euroleague match. After losing that first game 85-70, Galatasaray hopes to beat the odds and upset the Russian side, which has won 13 in a row. AFP photoGalatasaray Medical Park will test its home form against the best tonight.
The Istanbul side hosts CSKA Moscow, the top team in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague this season, in a crucial Group E match in the Top 16 stage.
Playing its first season in the top European club basketball competition, Galatasaray exceeded expectations and managed to advance to the Top 16 stage with four wins and six defeats in the regular season.
Galatasaray started the Top 16 stage with a defeat at fellow Istanbul side Anadolu Efes, but recovered with a hard-fought overtime victory over Olympiacos on the second match day.
Last week saw the Lions being added to the long list of casualties falling to CSKA Moscow, the only team that is unbeaten this season in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague.
Galatasaray, Olympiacos and Anadolu Efes trail CSKA, with all having one win and two defeats.
Efes was hosting Olympiacos yesterday in Istanbul. The game was still in progress as the Hürriyet Daily News went to press.
Tonight, the Lions will try to bring the Russians’ streak to an end while also giving themselves a shot of making it to the competition’s Top 8 stage. Galatasaray, who has won three of its last four home games, will be feeling the support of its boisterous crowd.
Former Fenerbahçe Ülker player Darjus Lavrinovic knows that it will be difficult to play at the Abdi İpekçi Arena.
“I used to play in Turkey and I know well how difficult is it to play in front of Galatasaray fans in Abdi İpekçi,” he was quoted as saying on the official Euroleague website. “But we are a big team and we play under big pressure all season long.”
CSKA will be without Viktor Khryapa, who will be out for about a month due to a dislocated index finger.
“The loss of Khryapa is obviously a big hit for us,” Lavrinovic said. “But I and all my teammates will do their best to stay positive, to keep playing our game.”
Fenerbahçe Ülker, another Turkish team in the competition, is set to meet Panathinaikos also tonight, a week after losing to the Greek side in Istanbul.
The Yellow Canaries suffered a heavy 77-56 defeat to Panathinaikos last week to slip to third spot in Group G. This is a must-win match for Fenerbahçe, who risks being dumped out of the competition with two matches remaining in the group.
Fenerbahçe Ülker coach Neven Spahija is aware that the team needs to bounce back from last week’s defeat.
“After this difficult loss in the first game, its very important that we have to convince the players that there are other games,” Spahija said. “We have to approach the game with less pressure and try our best. Panathinaikos is for sure in better shape at this moment. But we have to play better basketball than we did in the first game.”
There are two more games tonight, as Group H leader Regal Barcelona (three wins in as many games) visits Zalgiris Kaunas (0-3), while Maccabi Electra (1-2) hosts Bennet Cantu (2-1).