Turkish clubs Galatasaray and Anadolu Efes clash in Euroleague Top 16
In a critical Group E all-Turkish showdown, Galatasaray Medical Park hosts Anadolu Efes in a highly-anticipated game in Istanbul on Wednesday. Galatasaray (2-2) became the first Turkish Airlines Euroleague team to beat CSKA this season and wants to keep its momentum going to contend for the Playoffs. A loss means elimination for Efes (1-3), but if it wins and CSKA beats Olympiacos, the best Efes can get is a tie for second with the winner of the Week 6 Olympiacos vs. Galatasaray matchup, in which case the tiebreaker with Galatasary would go in favor of Efes, but would go against Efes if Olympiacos wins. Two players on each team have played for their opponent, and Galatasaray head coach Oktay Mahmuti did a four-year stint with Efes, adding intrigue to what promises to be a very intense game at Abdi Ipecki Sports Hall.
Galatasaray is still without Tutku Acik and Sertac Sanli, both sidelined by long-term injuries. Darius Songaila is not expected to play either. Efes will be without center Ermal Kuqo, out for at least six more weeks due to an ankle injury. Kerem Gonlum remains sidelined due to a long-term injury.
With Kuqo still injured, Efes has a very limited frontline that features power forward Dusko Savanovic and big men Esteban Batista and Stanko Barac. Savanovic, who had 16 points and 17 rebounds in a 68-62 victory against Galatasaray in Top 16 Game 1, must put his post moves, range and basketball smarts to work against Preston Shumpert and Boris Savovic, whose rebounding skills will be vital in this game. Batista and Barac will split minutes at center against Luksa Andric, in great form recently, and up-and-coming big man Furkan Aldemir.
Cehver Ozer will come off the hosts' bench at power forward to provide the fireworks from downtown. The point guard battle will be very interesting, with two ex-teammates who know all about each other – Kerem Tunceri of Efes and Ender Arslan of Galatasaray – going head to head. Oliver Lafayette will add deep range and driving skills for Efes at point guard, but he will not have it easy against Jamon Lucas, whose physical game and determination have been critical for Galatasaray lately.
Defensive stopper Huseyin Koksal, shooting ace Caner Topaloglu and legendary scorer Jaka Lakovic round out the hosts' backcourt. Lakovic must make the most out of his shooting skills and experience against Sasha Vujacic in a critical match-up. Koksal will use his energy and quick legs against Sinan Guler and Cenk Akyol, whose deep range could be decisive against his former team. Josh Shipp comes off a great game against CSKA, but he faces a physical, aggressive defender in Tarence Kinsey. Efes needs a good game from Vujacic and Savanovic, as well as plenty of concentration to overcome the high-energy basketball atmosphere at Abdi Ipecki. Galatasaray must repeat what it did against CSKA – run its offense through Lucas, Shipp and Andric, and play with all-out intensity.
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