Turkish Airlines Euroleague
December 20, 2014
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2011-12 Qualifying Rounds Profile: Galatasaray Medical Park
September 14, 2011
One of the most venerable clubs in European sports aims to rejoin basketball's elite as Galatasaray of Istanbul opens its 2011-12 season in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Qualifying Rounds. Galatasaray returned to prominence by finishing second in the Turkish League last season while winning its first game in the playoff finals in more than two decades. It was a welcome revival for a club that is responsible for having introduced basketball to Turkey and at one point won 15 national titles in 43 years. Started in 1905, Galatasaray is one of the oldest sports clubs in the world and takes its name from Galatasaray Lycee, a school founded in 1481. A teacher at the school brought basketball to Turkey in 1911. The club's basketball section opened in the early 1930s and found instant success, winning three consecutive Istanbul League titles from 1933 to 1936. Once World War II ended, Galatasaray kept dominating Turkish basketball with 16 Istanbul League titles and 11 Turkish championship trophies between 1940 and 1966. The club also competed well continentally, reaching the Euroleague eighthfinals in 1961 and 1964. Another Turkish League title in 1969 was followed by a 15-year drought until Galatasaray had its last spate of dominance, winning three more national titles between 1985 and 1990, the last of its Turkish League titles, won behind the effort of stars like Michaelle Scearce, Turgay Demirel, Paul Dawkins Hakan Yorukoglu, Lutfu Aribogan and Cem Caniklioglu. In Europe, Galatasaray stayed competitive, making eight consecutive Korac Cup appearances from 1993 and 2001, reaching the eighthfinals in 2000. Its current resurgence started in 2008, when Galatasaray showed it was no average Eurocup newcomer. With a memorable shot by Cuneyt Erden, Galatasaray reached the Eurocup semifinals before losing against eventual champion DKV Joventut. Last season, Galatasaray made its second consecutive appearance in the Eurocup Last 16, but could advance no further. At home in Turkey, however, its 22 regular season wins - the most by the club in a long time - proved no fluke as head coach Oktay Mahmuti marched his team through to the finals. A solid core of contributors featuring Ermal Kuqo, Josh Shipp and Luksa Andric kept getting better throughout the spring. In the finals, Galatasaray challenged eventual winner Fenerbahce Ulker through six games before dropping the last of those by 3 points.
Galatasaray has been aggressive in building a strong roster for the Qualifying Rounds. Coach Mahmuti again has several of the most important pieces from last year’s squad, including the versatile Shipp and sharpshooting Preston Shumpert on the wings and Andric inside, but the club has also added several experienced players to help Galatasaray reach new heights. Savvy playmaker Ender Arslan and the athletic Jamon Gordon are joined by veteran combo-guard Jaka Lakovic in a new-look backcourt. Together with assist man Tutku Acik, Lakovic and Arslan give the team multiple ball-handlers. Meanwhile Lakovic, Shumpert and forwards Haluk Yıldırım and Cevher Ozer make Galatasaray a very dangerous three-point shooting squad. Darius Songaila arrives to provide power in the paint that will translate into points and rebounds. Plus prospect Furkan Aldemir creates further depth in the frontline. Overall Galatasaray has a healthy mix of youth and experience, and speed and size that will make it a serious contender in the Qualifying Rounds.
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