Women set for battle of Final Eight in Istanbul

Women set for battle of Final Eight in Istanbul

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Women set for battle of Final Eight in Istanbul

Galatasaray center Sylvia Fowles (R) drives for the basket during a Beko Women’s Basketball League in Istanbul. Fowles is one of the key members of the Galatasaray squad, which also boasts stars like Diana Taurasi, Tina Charles and Alba Torrens. AA photo

Eight women’s basketball teams will battle in Istanbul for the top honor in Europe, starting today.
Istanbul’s Abdi İpekçi Arena will host the Euroleague Women Final Eight games between March 28 and April 1. The tournament will have an added flavor for Turkish fans, as Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray are also in the eight-team pack to renew the country’s greatest sports rivalry, this time on the basketball court.

Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray are both pitted in Group A, along with Spain’s Rivas Ecopolis and Italy’s Beretta-Famila.

Valencia-based Ros Casares, Poland’s Wisla Can-Pack along with Russian duo Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje and UMMC Ekaterinburg are in the Group B.

Group winners meet in final

After the three-day group stages, the winner of each pot will meet in the final, while the runners-up will play in the third-place playoff.

Galatasaray opens its Final Eight campaign against Rivas Ecopolis, while Fenerbahçe takes on Beretta-Famila tonight. In the other group, it is Wisla vs. Sparta and Ros Casares vs. UMMC today.

The two Turkish teams believe they have a good chance of winning the title, Galatasaray qualified for the Final Eight as the host team and have a 11-3 winning record, while Fenerbahçe is the only unbeaten team in the competition.

“This team added a lot of new pieces from last year with Tina Charles, Alba Torrens, Ivanka Matic, myself,” Galatasaray guard Diana Taurasi, who is a potential MVP with her league average 21 points per game this season, said on the official competition website. “It’s taken a little time to get used to with each other … I think we’ve done a good job of mixing all the talent together.”

First for Turkey

If either one of them takes the trophy home, it will be a first for Turkey. Fenerbahçe has a silver medal from the 2004-2005 campaign while Galatasaray finished third in 1998-99.

Galatasaray also won the second-tier EuroCup in the 2008-2009 campaign, making history as the first Turkish women’s basketball team to win a European competition. k HDN