Can Pinar Karsiyaka maintain the 1st spot in Turkey, defeating Tofas?

In Round 11 of the Turkish Basketball League, we have some very interesting matches. The most interesting is the battle between 5th place Tofas and 1st place Pinar Karsiyaka. Both teams have big expectations from this season on both competitions they are involved. Last year Tofas won both league matches with a huge victory away and an overtime win at home.

Tofas season started very well, but now they are in a poor form with 3 defeats out of last 4 games. Fenerbahce, Venezia and Darussafaka where the teams that beat them while the win came against Besiktas. In the last round, they played against Darussafaka but lost the game 69-61. Their offense was low level, especially thanks to Matt Lojeski, Tarik Phillip and Berk Ugurlu who combined had 4-21 from the field and all of them played more than 22 minutes. Sammy Mejia and Javar Williams were the main contributors with 15 points, 5 rebounds and 12 points, 10 rebounds respectively. In order to have a chance against league-leaders, they need to improve their shooting and play more like a team and record more assists. They have to move the ball more and find the open man, while use their rotation at maximum to give some minutes off to Mejia, Lojeski and White who are all over 33 years old. They can’t rely only on those three players an entire season, because they are not in their prime anymore. After this game, they will travel to Lithuania to face Rytas in another big Eurocup’s match.

Pinar Karsiyaka is the surprise of the season in Turkey because they are in first place with a 9-1 record after 10 games. They also managed to get in the next phase in FIBA Europe Cup where were drawn against Enisey, Leiden and Bahcesehir in a very tough group. In the last TBL round, they managed to get a huge win against Fenerbahce 68-57. They took control of the game in the first quarter and then never let Fener take the advantage. Their defense was terrific, forcing Ali Muhammed (Bobby Dixon), Derrick Williams and Luigi Datome to a very poor shooting with only 3 made out of 16 attempts in more than 24 minutes on the court each. The main scorers for Pinar were: Jordan Morgan (19 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists), DJ Kennedy (16 points and 8 rebounds) and Amath M’Baye (11 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists). After this game, they will travel to Holland to face Leiden in FIBA Europe Cup.

Both teams came after low scoring games and I expect that both coaches will do something in that manner. They need to improve their shooting in order to have a chance to win this derby. I expect a huge fight and in the end, a Pinar win, because their morale is huge and their rotations seem slightly better.

Photo: Fiba Europe Cup

Bogdan Vasile Tirc