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Big Dreams In Basketball
STRAWS HAVE BEEN DRAWN FOR THE TURKISH AIRLINES FOUR-WAY EUROLEAGUE SEASON FINAL, TO BE PLAYED IN ISTANBUL. AND THE PAIRINGS AND NEW TRANSFERS POINT TO A BREATHTAKING SEASON.
The normal season will start on October 17 in Turkish Airlines Euroleague, in which Banvit and Galatasaray look set to take part from Turkey this year alongside Anadolu Efes and Fenebahçe Ülker. Following the drawing of straws, Fenerbahçe Ülker ended up in the relatively easy Group A while Anadolu Efes has been paired with some tough opponents in Group C.
Fenerbahçe is the most highly motivated team in its group in European basketball’s biggest club-based event. Preserving their core squad, the yellow and blues are strong enough to place among the top two in their group. Another group favorite, in spite of losing its key players to the economic crisis in Greece, is Olympiakos. Caja Laboral meanwhile, although it has set its sights high, is among the biggest losers of the summer. Bilbao, who played in the Spanish League final, is another tournament favorite. And Cantu, who made a remarkable rise in Italy, and last French champion Nancy are two opponents that should give Fenerbahçe no trouble.
Anadolu Efes’s group meanwhile is chock full of strong adversaries it knows all too well. Top rival of the blue and white team, who recently beefed up their squad with a hefty investment, is Serbia and Adriatic league champion Partizan. Winner of the most European championships, Real Madrid, and Final Four veteran Maccabi Tel Aviv are even stronger this year following recent reinforcements. But the group’s most outstanding team is EA7 Milano, which has added stars like Omar Cook, Antonis Fotsis and Ioannis Bouroursis. If Galatasaray can overtake its rivals, it will be in this group. But a change could be in order since two teams from the same country cannot compete in the same group under the rules.
If Banvit can pass the qualifiers, it will compete in Group D, which includes strong opponents like Barcelona, Siena, and last Eurocup champion Unics Kazan.