Who will win the Turkish derby of the EuroLeague?

Fenerbahce will host Efes on Friday evening in the Ulker Sports Hall in a game that counts for Round 33 of the current EuroLeague season.

The Turkish derby always brings very fierce encounters and now it will be even more so as both teams need the win a lot: with only two rounds left in the regular season Fenerbahce can have home-court advantage in the quarterfinals or they could finish as low as 7th, which would mean they have to compete in a play-in game in order to qualify for the playoffs. Efes is currently in 10th place which takes them to play-in game, but Zalgiris, Milan, Partizan and Valencia are all only one win behind so Efes can still miss the playoffs.

Fenerbahce comes after a very comfortable win against Alba Berlin, a game where Nigel Hayes-Davis made history by scoring 50 points, breaking the EuroLeague scoring record held by his opponent on Friday, Shane Larkin, who scored 49 points in 2019. Efes in the meantime won a crucial game in Vitoria-Gasteiz that keeps their playoff chances alive.

Both teams went through a coaching change in the course of the season and in both cases, the results improved: Sarunas Jasikevicius replaced Dimitris Itoudis at the helm of Fenerbahce in December while Tomislav Mijatovic took over as head coach at Efes in February after Erdem Can be let go (Mijatovic was the assistant coach of Can). Both teams won four out of their last five EuroLeague games, so they are two of the hottest sides at this moment in the league.

In the first meeting between the two teams this EuroLeague season Fenerbahce won 89-84 at the Sinan Erdem Dome. Hayes-Davis had 24 points for the winning side, while Shane Larkin responded with 28. In the Turkish league, Efes won by one point (81-80), while Fener was victorious in the Turkish Cup Final in February, beating Efes 80-67.

Statistically, we can see that Efes has a slightly better offense, averaging 85.8 points per game, however, Fenerbahce is a much better defensive team, receiving only 80.8 ppg against Efes’s 86.8.

Imre Halasz

Photo credit: EuroLeague