Two fierce rivals meet on basketball court

Two fierce rivals meet on basketball court

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Two fierce rivals meet on basketball court

Hürriyet photo

Fenerbahçe Ülker plays Galatasaray today in the Presidential Cup final to renew Turkish sports’ biggest rivalry on the basketball court.

The two sides, whose rivalry dates back a century, create an important spectacle whenever they meet, be it football, volleyball or basketball.

The two teams met in the finals series in June, and Fenerbahçe Ülker clinched the trophy after winning the series 4-2. Fenerbahçe Ülker is the dominant force in Turkish basketball in recent years, winning three titles in four years.

Galatasaray, however, has every reason to be hopeful this time. The team made its best showing in two decades last season under Coach Oktay Mahmuti’s spell. Mahmuti also was hailed for carrying his side to the regular season of the Turkish Airlines Euroleague, the top-level club basketball competition in Europe. Galatasaray had to overcome three solid European sides – PAOK from Greece, Asvel of France and Lietuvos Rytas from Lithuania – to qualify for the group stages.

Galatasaray signed several key names during the summer’s transfer window. Slovenian guard Jaka Lakovic, Lithuanian forward Darius Songaila, American guard Jamon Gordon and Georgian center Zaza Pachulia were the crucial additions to the squad, along with two key Turkish internationals, guard Ender Arslan and center Furkan Aldemir.

Fenerbahçe Ülker was hardly active in the transfer window and missed several important players from the double-winning squad. The Yellow Canaries lost Lithuanian star Sarunas Jasikevicius, Tarence Kinsey, Darius Lavrinovic and Sean May, while they signed Bogdan Bogdanovic from Cibona Zagreb, Curtis Jerrels and James Gist from Partizan, and Hakan Demirel from Erdemir.

Tonight’s match will be the fourth time the two teams meet in the final. Galatasaray beat Fenerbahçe in 1985 for its only Presidential Cup victory and it was the other way around in 1990. Ülker beat Galatasaray in 1995, which was the last time the two sides met before Fenerbahçe and Ülker entered a merger in 2006.