Turkish Airlines Euroleague
May 23, 2013
bwin Euroleague Fantasy Challenge
Tel Aviv 2004
Qualifying Rounds 2012
NIKE International Junior Tournament
THE BUZZ: Istanbul
NBA Europe Live is back in a city like Istanbul, were East meets West, a one-of-a-kind atmosphere to host a big game in which a highly-improved Efes Pilsen hosts the Minnesota Timberwolves in front of a sellout crowd at Abdi Ipecki. The game has been heavily promoted all around the city, where NBA banners and poster remind you about the game constantly. However, when you get to Abdi Ipecki, there is no doubt that Efes Pilsen is playing at home, in front of their own fans, looking for a prestigious win that is not as far away as anyone expected just a year ago. Barcelona and CSKA Moscow already opened the door for all European clubs to challenge and beat NBA teams in their own territory. Efes Pilsen had a strong pre-season even when head coach David Blatt just joined in once he won the gold medal with Russia at EuroBasket 2007. Efes put together aguably one of the best rosters, if not the best, in club history, ready to shock everyone right away.
"The Euroleague teams have a lot of quality and European basketball always means good chemistry and team game. Anybody can beat anybody today,"
Timberwolves guard Marko Jaric said before the game.
"Actually, the whole Istanbul is really excited about this game. It is going to be a big game for us and we will try to play good basketball,"
Efes guard Ender Arslan said on Friday.
"It is going to be a very good atmosphere, like in any big game in Istanbul. I think it will be a very good game,"
he added. One way or another, Istanbul is getting ready for a balanced, exciting NBA Europe Live game that may change Turkish basketball forever.
Minnesota opted to train in the Efes Pilsen practice facilities the day before the game, where you can see what this club is all about. It features its entire trophy case written on the walls: 12 Turkish League titles, 8 Turkish Cup titles and above all, the 1996 Korac Cup trophy, the first - and only - ever for a Turkish team in European basketball history. Minnesota is well aware of its own situation and the consequences that a loss could mean for the team, as Mark Madsen explained to Euroleague.net.
"Last year, believe me, back in the United States it made headlines when Barcelona and CSKA won. We don't know want to experience that,"
"I expect a great, strong atmosphere against us and I am excited about it. Europeans are knows for their passion about sports and about life"
, Madsen added. He spent two years in Southern Spain as a missioner for the mormon church so he, just like Jarc, can tell how passionate European fans can be when it comes to sports. The Timberwolves are enjoying the laid-back atmosphere in Istanbul, but everyone knows that it will all be different in the game against Efes Pilsen.
"I have been in the NBA for 14 years and I can see now that I spend a training camp in Europe. Let alone that the people here in Turkey are great to us, giving us first-class treatment,"
Juwan Howard said.
"I wouldn't be shocked if a Euroleague team beats a NBA team again. Basketball is expanding globally and the talent level in Europe has increased dramatically,"
"We will play to win the game. We know Minnesota is a very good team but we know we can play good basketball. It all starts with good defense,"
Arslan added. Coach Blatt knows about it and he had a intense practice on Friday night to make everyone know that his team is challenging for a big win.
"We definitely have a chance and we are coming out to play our best game. They have a lot of young players and they don't know what to expect,"
Kenny Gregory told us.
"We will give it out best shot and see what happens."
He was not the only one feeling optimistic after Efes' intense practice on Friday. Drew Nicholas, an Alphonso Ford Top Scorer award winner in 2006, also had similar feelings entering this NBA Europe Live game.
"We are going to g out, play hard and hopefully we can win, but we are just focused on how we play,"
"This is a players' system. Players love to play for coach Blatt and hopefully it all can translate into a lot of wins."
Serkan Erdogan, back in Turkey after two years in Tau Ceramica, is not an exception.
"We want to beat them, of course. A team like Efes Pilsen never goes to a game to just play it or even lose it,"
he said. Everyone knows that the game wil benothing but a big battle in a great basketball atmosphere, as coach Blatt and his group of talented players try to send a message that echoes all around the world.
Friday, October 05, 2007
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