Turkish derby tips off in EuroLeague

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published 19.11.2018 19:02
Updated 21.11.2018 00:55

Teams return to EuroLeague action today. Fenerbahçe hosts crosstown rivals Darüşşafaka Tekfen, while Anadolu Efes will face Maccabi Fox Tel Aviv

Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Round 8 starts today with the two Turkish powerhouses Fenerbahçe and Darüşşafaka meeting in Istanbul. The Yellow Canaries' morale was boosted in Round 7 as they beat Greek rival Olympiacos Piraeus 73-72.

With this result, Fenerbahçe improved to 6-1, while Olympiacos dropped to 3-4. Kostas Sloukas led the winners with 20 points on 7-of-7 free throw shooting against his former team. Nikola Kalinic added 16 point and Melih Mahmutoğlu had 12 for Fenerbahçe.

With the game on the line, Sloukas drew a foul while shooting from downtown, hit all three free throw attempts and then buried a stop-and-pop 3-pointer that allowed Fenerbahçe to escape with a road win.

Fenerbahçe hit 14 of 15 free throws (93.3 percent); that is the fourth-best mark in the EuroLeague this season and just the seventh time that Fenerbahçe has shot 93 percent or better in the competition.

However, AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milano drilled a club record 18 3-pointers in beating Darüşşafaka Tekfen Istanbul 92-98 at Volkswagen Arena on Nov. 22.

Yet, Darüşşafaka had many things to be proud of, even though it came up short in the end. The team out-rebounded Milano 39-32, including 17 offensive boards. It made 22 of 25 free throws (88 percent). Its total performance index rating of 108 bettered Milano's 100. Ultimately, what did it in were 15 turnovers and Milano's great 3-point shooting.

Also today, the other Turkish team Anadolu Efes will host Israeli rival Maccabi Fox Tel Aviv.

One of the hottest teams in the league faces one of the coldest, though there have been major changes for visiting Maccabi. Ioannis Sfairopoulis took over head coaching duties on Sunday and this will be his first game in charge. He inherits a Maccabi side that has lost four in a row. Efes has won four of its last five games.

While the Efes attack (85 points per game) has scored the fourth-most points in the league, Maccabi has allowed the fourth most (82.7 points per game).

Efes and Maccabi both have plenty of muscle in the paint and it will be tantalizing to see two-time EuroLeague Best Defender Bryant Dunston of Efes square off against Maccabi's Tarik Black. New Maccabi coach Ioannis Sfairopoulis has faced Efes 13 times over the past four seasons with Olympiacos. He led the Reds to an 8-5 record in those games, including a five-game victory in the 2017 EuroLeague playoffs.

Sfairopoulis has won the last four games he coached against Efes. Efes has found success in part thanks to its excellent 3-point shooting coupled with fantastic 3-point defense. Efes leads the league in 3-point accuracy (44.2 percent) and has allowed opponents to make 33.9 percent of their threes, which is the third lowest in the league.

In the other two matches of Round 8 today, Bayern Munich will host Olympiacos Piraeus while Real Madrid and Herbalife Gran Canaria meets in Madrid.

Last week, Herbalife Gran Canaria broke its four-game losing streak in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season by topping Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv 84-78 at home. Real Madrid overcame a tough challenge from Khimki Moscow Region to remain perfect with a 79-74 victory, boosting the reigning champs' record to 7-0 on Nov. 23.

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