Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul will host Panathinaikos Athens today in the Ulker Sports and Events Hall, in a game that counts for Round 3 of the current EuroLeague season. It will be a battle between two teams that hope to reach the Final Four at the end of the season.
Both teams have a 1-1 record after the first two rounds. Fenerbahce played two very close games so far, an overtime win at home against Olimpia Milan and then a somewhat surprising defeat in Valencia. The biggest headache for Fenerbahce coach Dimitris Itoudis (a former assistant coach of Panathinaikos for many years) is the injury of Tyler Dorsey, who will miss two months of action because of a fracture in his right foot. It is a huge blow for the Turkish team, as Dorsey and the other American guard Scottie Wilbekin are the team’s two leaders so far in points and PIR.
Panathinaikos completely rebuilt the roster this summer after some very unsuccessful years by the team’s standards and looks to make a big comeback to European basketball’s elite. Ergin Ataman was handed the keys to lead the team to success and Greens are starting to look better and better. Just like Fener, PAO played an overtime game in Round 1, losing the Greek derby against eternal rivals Olympiacos in the OAKA. In Round 2 they managed to bounce back and defeated Bayern Munich, a team that also improved in the summer. The good news for the Greek fans is that Kostas Sloukas, who missed the game against Bayern, is back from injury and will play today. Sloukas is one of the biggest transfers made this summer in Europe, especially because he arrived to Panathinaikos from Olympiacos and he almost beat his former team with a buzzer-beater in the very first EuroLeague game played in the Green jersey.
While Fenerbahce is the favourite of today’s clash, considering Dorsey’s absence and the return of Sloukas, Panathinaikos certainly has a chance to win in Istanbul.
Photo credit: AA sports