Turk Telekom from the 2nd league directly to the playoff

Turk Telekom was founded in 1991 and plays the home games at Ankara Arena which have a capacity of 10,400 seats since April 2010. They won a Turkish Cup in 2008 and two Presidents Cup. They were relegated in 2016 after finishing in 15th place, but this season they came back in the first division with high ambitions.

The organization brought in only efficient players with huge experience in European basketball. Sylvan Landesberg, Vladimir Stimac, T.J. Campbell or Kenny Gabriel came to give Turk Telekom a fresh air with high expectations.

They started the season very well with a 7-3 record in the first 10 games, losing only against Anadolu Efes, Fenerbahce Istanbul, the main favourites to win TBL and a close loss against Buyukcekmece, 80-77. They also competed in Eurocup, where they finished on the 5th place in a strong group against Zenit St. Petersburg, Valencia, Partizan Belgrade, Lyon-Villeurbanne and Aquila Trento. They had the same record as Partizan or Zenit, placed third or fourth, but the H2H matches were favourable for Serbian and Russian team.

It seemed to be a good season for Turk Telekom, but the beginning of 2019 marked a decline for the Turkish team. They started the year with a bad record of 2 wins and 7 losses in TBL, and the chances to catch a playoff spot were in danger. But, in difficult times, the big players step in. In the last 7 games, they won 5 games and managed to finish in the 7th place, leaving other important squads like Darussafaka and Pinar Karsiyaka to wait one more season in order to get to a playoff berth.

The main weapons for Turk Telekom were: Landsberg which averages 20.3 points (3rd in TBL), 3.4 rebounds, Stimac with 14.6 points and 9.3 rebounds (4th in TBL) and Campbell with 8.6 points and 4.7 assists. It seems that all the transfers were a winning gamble for them. Also, from the bench, they have good and experienced Turkish players who can contribute.

In the first round of TBL playoffs, Turk Telekom will face giants Fenerbahce Istanbul which finished second in the regular season. It will be very hard for Turk to put any problems with Fener, which is stronger in any aspect. I’m pretty sure Fenerbahce will qualify without any extra efforts. Good luck to Turk Telekom, they will definitely need it.

Bogdan Vasile Tirc, info@brainbasketball.net

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