Three Istanbul clubs set eyes on success as Euroleague tips off
The race for the Final Four of the Turkish Airlines Euroleague starts on Oct. 11, with three Turkish teams aiming to book their places in the biggest event of the European club basketball.
Anadolu Efes visits Bayern Munich on Oct. 11 and Darüşşafaka Tekfe trvales to Real Madrid, while Fenerbahçe, which has made it to three consecutive Final Four finals and won the trophy in Istanbul in 2017, starts its campaign against Gran Canaria at home.
Bayern returns to the Euroleague after two years with experienced additions such as Petteri Koponen, Nemanja Dangubic and Leon Radosevic.
Efes, on the other hand, finished last season with a dismal 7-23 record and has reloaded its roster with Shane Larkin, Rodrigue Beaubois and Adrien Moerman, among others.
The Istanbul club has a size advantage in the paint with Tibor Pleiss and a couple of experienced big men like Bryant Dunston and Adrien Moerman.
Shane Larkin will play a key role in his return to the Euroleague as coach Ergin Ataman gives point guards a lot of freedom and his team’s success will depend on Larkin, Vasilije Micic and Rodrigue Beaubois finding good shots and creating for others.
Last season’s Eurocup winner Darüşşafaka visits the defending Euroleague champion Real Madrid in its first game hoping to show that it belongs in the elite of European basketball.
The last time the two sides met in Madrid, in Game 2 of the 2017 playoffs, Darüşşafaka was the winner.
Last season’s runner-up Fenerbahçe returns to the competition against debutant Gran Canaria with legendary coach Zeljko Obradovic and a core of players who worked splendidly together in recent years.
There are just two major additions to the roster. Big man Joffrey Lauvergne returns to the Euroleague for the first time since 2014, ready to play a big role in a very deep, versatile frontcourt. Talented point guard Tyler Ennis is set to make his Euroleague debut with intensity and determination.
Their first goal will be adjusting to the well-oiled basketball machine of Coach Obradovic and to add enough extra skill to take Fenerbahçe a step further than its runner-up finish last season.