Turkish Airlines Euroleague
April 20, 2014
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Team Focus: Galatasaray
October 14, 2011
2010-11: 6-6, Last 16 Eurocup
2009-10: 3-9, Last 16 Eurocup
2007-08: 10-7, Semis Eurocup
By reaching the Turkish Airlines Euroleague through the qualifying rounds, Galatasaray has written a new page in its century-old sports history. Always ambitious and respected all over Europe, Galatasaray will now try to extend its success in its Euroleague debut season. Galatasaray has put together a very competitive roster full of experienced Euroleague players and heady newcomers while keeping former Eurocup Coach of the Year trophy winner Oktay Mahmuti on the bench. The team boosted its backcourt with three experienced Euroleague veterans: playmaker Ender Arslan and combo guards Jamon Gordon and Jaka Lakovic. It also fortified its frontcourt with key additions like Darius Songaila, Furkan Aldemir, Zaza Pachulia and Cehver Ozer. Galatasaray also kept a core of players - such as Preston Shumpert, Tutku Acik, Luksa Andric and Josh Shipp - who launched the team into the Turkish League finals last season. The club already proved in the qualifying rounds that it is ready to deliver right away. Now it hopes to prove itself again, with the Top 16 as its initial goal.
At the point guard position, Galatasaray is all about experience, as Arslan and Acik have combined for 230 Euroleague games in their careers. Arslan is a very dynamic playmaker, all about creativity, imagination and passing skills. Acik is an on-the-ball defensive stopper, as well as an effective shooter who is not afraid to take responsability in crunch time. Lakovic is set to see more minutes at the off-guard position, where he can showcase all his offensive arsenal: three-pointers off screens, step-back jumpers, good driving skills and free throws. In fact, Lakovic ranks second in Euroleague history in free throws made. Jamon Lucas will see minutes at both guard spots. His explosiveness, aggressive defense and winning mentality are the perfect complement to Shipp, a great athlete who gets better every year. Shipp needs to play with more consistency to become a Euroleague star but has the potential to get there due to his power, speed and strength at small forward. Three-point threats Evren Buker and Haluk Yildirim - still active at age 39 - will offer range and defense off the bench.
Coach Mahmuti has a lot of options around the baskets, but also two mobile power forwards able to spread the floor at all times. Shumpert has adjusted to playing power forward to make the most ouf his ballhandling, quickness and deadly jumper off the dribble. Experienced and versatile, Shumpert could also play small forward - like he did earlier in this career - if need be. Andric is an excellent shooter who has developed very effective post skills over the years. A modern power forward, mobile and athletic, Andric is expected to see quality playing time alongside Songaila and Pachulia. Songaila, who reached the Final Four with CSKA in 2003, is back to European basketball to offer post skills, baseline jumpers and know-how in the paint. Pachulia, a late addition to the team, provides size, power and energy around the boards. At age 27, Pachulia has a great chance to confirm show his country's fans up-close the talent he first displayed in the 2002-03 Euroleague. Ozer is an aggressive rebounder and an excellent three-point shooter, always ready to pull the trigger from downtown. Aldemir is an up-and-coming talent with size, strength, good post moves and a knack for rebounds that he already showed in the qualifying rounds. He will try to work his way into the rotation with great mentality and willingness.
Far from being an average Euroleague newcomer, Galatasaray is ready to make some noise from Week 1 onward. Ready to distinguish itself as Istanbul's third team in the competition, expect Galatasaray to be a tough, competitive opponent at all times.
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