Two Turkish teams to clash on road to Final 4 in Istanbul
BARCELONA - Hürriyet Daily News
Anadolu Efes beat Galatasaray 69-61 as the two Istanbul teams met in a league game last month. Experienced Efes will be the favorite again as the two teams are pitted to play against each other in the Euroleague. AA photoTwo Turkish teams, Anadolu Efes and Galatasaray Medical Park, were pitted against each other in the same group as the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Top 16 draws were made yesterday in Barcelona.
Both teams were placed in Group E of the top-level club competition in European basketball, along with tournament favorite CSKA Moscow of Russia and Greek powerhouse Olympiacos.
The third Turkish team in the competition, Fenerbahçe Ülker, was handed a comparably easier challenge, since the Yellow Canaries enjoy the advantage of being a seeded team after winning its group.
Fenerbahçe will also face Greek opponents Panathinaikos, the defending champions, and the Russian team Unics Kazan, in addition to Emporio Armani of Italy.
The Turkish teams will be hoping to make it all the way to the Final Four to be played in Istanbul’s Sinan Erdem Dome between May 11 and 13, 2012. Anadolu Efes General Manager Engin Özerhun acknowledged the team’s road to the Final Four would not be smooth.
“After getting CSKA Moscow, we knew it was going to be a complicated group,” he said on the competition’s official website. “The Top 16 is never easy, but we will fight for first place.”
“We know we will play much better than we did in the regular season. We had some injuries but everyone has recovered now. We expect to be a tough opponent and will fight to be in one of the top two places. This is the first time we will face a Turkish team in the new Euroleague, and it will be tough, of course.”
Ali Tursan, the general manager of the Euroleague debutant Galatasaray Medical Park, said the level of the group was not a surprise.
“These are the best teams in Europe, and this is what you expect to find in the Top 16,” he said.
“Everyone can beat anybody in this group. From my point of view, everyone is saying ‘so far, so good’ until now, but for us, that isn’t enough. We hope to keep having great audiences in the Top 16, for sure. We will play to the last second of every game and see where that leads us.”
Meanwhile, Group F consists of Real Madrid, Montepaschi Siena, Unicaja and Gescrap Bizkaia Bilbao, while Group H has Barcelona Regal, Maccabi Electra, Bennet Cantu and Zalgiris Kaunas.
Every group will feature six games per team in a round-robin setup from Jan. 16 through March 1, 2012. The teams with the best two records in each Top 16 group advance to the playoffs, best-of-five series held between March 21 and April 5, 2012.
The four playoff winners will move on to the Final Four.