Turkish giants Fener, Galatasaray to start basketball playoff finals
AA PhotoTurkish sports’ bitter foes will renew their centennial rivalry in the Beko Basketball League final series starting today.
Fenerbahçe Ülker hosts Galatasaray Liv Hospital in the first game of the best-of-seven final series to win the national title in men’s basketball.
Galatasaray will be out to defend its title but it is Fenerbahçe Ülker, which finished the regular season with a better winning percentage, holding the home team advantage.
Fenerbahçe Ülker’s Serbian coach Zeljko Obradovic said he was relishing the prospect of playing in the final.
“I am really happy that we get to play in the final series. We will be up for the challenge,” Obradovic said at the two teams’ joint press conference before the final. “I think it is a big opportunity for basketball fans: Two teams will be playing a great final series.”
Last year, Galatasaray ended a 23-year wait to win the title at the expense of Banvit.
Fenerbahçe Ülker, however, has endured a two-year absence from the finals, following a dominant five-year period, in which it enjoyed four titles and one runner-up finish between 2007 and 2011.
The last of Fenerbahçe’s titles came in 2011, against Galatasaray.
Fenerbahçe’s last four of its overall five league titles came after its merger with Ülkerspor, which has won four league titles in its 13-year history between 1993 and 2006.
The Yellow Canaries made a stunning start to the season with Obradovic at the helm as the head coach, but were knocked out of the Euroleague. However, they still remained on course for a runner-up finish in the regular season.
Fenerbahçe has also been perfect so far in the playoffs, sweeping Uşak Sportif 2-0 and Pınar Karşıyaka 3-0 on its way to the final.
Galatasaray’s path to the final has been somewhat more tricky, with the Lions having to overcome Beşiktaş Integral Forex 2-1 and Banvit 3-1 to grab a ticket to the final. Banvit, with a 28-2 winning record, has been the regular season’s best team.
Galatasaray coach Ergin Ataman said his team will play hard to defend its title.
“Right now we have a very strong team ahead,” Ataman said. “They have a very good coach, who is the best coach with the greatest career in Europe.”
“They have the home-court advantage but we have a good team that has found its rhythm to perform in the playoffs,” he added.
“I hope we get to play out a great derby in the frame of fair-play, while Turkey, and even Europe, will be watching,” he concluded.
Tonight’s game at the Ülker Arena starts at 9 pm.
Game two will also be played at Fenerbahçe’s court on June 5.
In the two following games, the series will be carried to Galatasaray Liv Hospital’s court at Abdi İpekçi Arena on June 8 and 10.
If needed, game five will be on June 13 at Fenerbahçe and game six at Galatasaray on June 16.
If the series is forced to a game seven, the deciding match will be played at the Ülker Arena on June 19.