Anadolu Efes Istanbul prepares for its second-straight and fourth Final Four appearance in club history after reaching the championship game in 2019. It's been a wild ride for Coach Ergin Ataman's squad, which was last in the league in 2018, but has been among the EuroLeague elite ever since. Efes's 49 combined victories between the 2019-20 season, which was aborted due to the COVID-19 pandemic with Efes alone atop the table, and this season are tied with FC Barcelona for the most in the league in that span.
Efes reached its first Final Four in 2000 in Thessaloniki, Greece, and was back the following year before suffering through an 18-year absence until its next Final Four. In that time, Efes reached the EuroLeague Playoffs five times and took its series the distance – to a winner-takes-all Game 3 or Game 5 – three times. It finally ended the drought in 2019 with a Game 5 victory over Barcelona to get to the Final Four in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain.
Only once before has Efes played in Cologne; it defeated RheinEnergie Cologne 68-82 in Round 2 of the 2006-07 EuroLeague Regular Season at Philips Halle. Historically, Efes is 13-5 in games played in Germany with wins over Cologne, Bayer Leverkusen, ALBA Berlin, Brose Bamberg and FC Bayern Munich. Center Tibor Pleiss gives Efes a strong connection to Cologne; he grew up in the area and played his first three seasons as a professional for the local club. Vasilije Micic also played in Germany for Bayern for a season and a half.