Galatasaray visits Italian giants

Galatasaray visits Italian giants

Galatasaray visits Italian giants

Galatasaray Medical Park center Luksa Andric (R) tries to score against Unics Kazan in a Turkish Airlines Euroleague game. Galatasaray Medical Park takes on Montepaschi Siena tonight. AA Photo

Galatasaray Medical Park will try to pull a major upset tonight when it visits Italian heavyweight Montepaschi Siena in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague.

The Lions, who are debutants on this stage, will take their biggest test in Group D of the top-level basketball tournament in Europe. Galatasaray advanced to the group stage of the Turkish Airlines Euroleague only after surviving a three-stage qualifying rounds.

The Istanbul side started the tournament with an important win at Asseco Prokom, but its first-game advantage was canceled out by a defeat to Unics Kazan last week. The defeat was Galatasaray’s first this season after starting the campaign with eight consecutive wins in all competitions.

Montepaschi Siena, however, is a regular fixture on the continental stage. The Italians were on the podium last year, finishing the Final Four in third.

The two teams are set to face each other for the first time.

Montepaschi has two wins in the group and has won 16 of its last 17 home games in the competition.

The Italians are relying on a core of players who have been together for years to make the difference in the game. In addition to a squad boasting David Andersen and Shaun Stonerook, two solid players in the paint, along with explosive point guard Bo McCalebb, Montepaschi added Igor Rakocevic, a former top-scorer in the competition.

Galatasaray, however, has an experienced team as well. The team boasts the likes of Jaka Lakovic, Darius Songaila and Ender Arslan, who are all experienced at the top level.

“This will be a tough game against a great team with experience and a deep roster,” Montepaschi Siena head coach Simone Pingiani was quoted as saying on the Euroleague website.

“Galatasaray Medical Park showed all of its value in the previous games, starting with the qualification round, then in the regular season and Turkish League games,” he said. “It will be very tough for us defensively because Galatasaray Medical Park plays the pick-and-roll, as its principal option, very well. They have great players, shooters and big men with great control and ability to attack the basket.”

Union Olimpija welcomes Asseco Prokom in group D’s other game tonight; in other action, title hopeful CSKA Moscow visits KK Zagreb in Group B, while unbeaten Caja Laboral welcomes Olympiacos.