|After a full decade as one of the most effective players in Euroleague history, Jaka Lakovic leads Galatasaray Medical Park into its first-ever Turkish Airlines Euroleague Top 16 this week. The veteran guard helped GS Medical Park reach the Euroleague from the pre-season qualifying round and was the team's top performer during the regular season with 9.4 points and 2.8 assists on average, not to mention great shooting accuracy: 58.8% on two-pointers, 45% on three-pointers and 80% on free throws. What's more, in the next-to-last regular season game, Lakovic moved into third place on the Euroleague's all-time scoring list, where he now has 2,463 points, behind only Juan Carlos Navarro and Marcus Brown. We received dozens of e-mails full of questions for Jaka Lakovic, who answered the best of them. Lakovic is very comfortable in Istanbul and loves to play for Galatasaray, as he said in one fan mail answer. "I feel great playing for Galatasaray, I love this team and its people. I have only good words and good feeling about Galatasaray," Lakovic said. "I am looking forward to spending as much time as possible in this club."
Hello Jaka. What do you think about Galatasaray’s fans and the atmosphere created during home games? How do you compare Galatasaray fans with others all around the world, especially those supporting your former team, Barcelona?
Ogulcan Ozcikmak - Turkey
"Thanks for your question, Ogulcan. I would like to say that Galatasaray fans have surprised me in every possible way! I have never seen such devoted fans, supporting us in every situation - good or bad. They are there for us, singing the team songs from the very beginning of the game until the end. So far, all I can say is that playing for Galatasaray has been a great experience for me."
Hey Jaka. At what age do you think that you played your best basketball? And which stage of your career have you most enjoyed playing basketball?
Nurettin Can Karakas - Turkey
"Good questions, Nurettin! As for the first question, I think I had my best season when I was playing for Panathinaikos. It was the year we want to the Final Four back in the 2004-05 season. We also won the Greek League and the Greek Cup in Greece. Generally speaking, it is difficult to say in which year I played the best basketball of my career. When you play well, your team wins some titles and is successful, everything comes together. I enjoy basketball every time I play. I started to play basketball when I was young not for the money, but because I love the sport. That has not changed a bit; I love basketball, and that is all that matters to me."
Dear Jaka, congratulations on your career so far. You are one of my favorite players. I enjoyed a lot when you played for Panathinaikos. My question is - who has been the best player you have played with? Best regards
Giannis-Panathinaikos - Athens, Greece
"Thanks a lot, Giannis. Oh, it's tough, but there are a couple of teammates who were truly outstanding. I would say a lot of things about a lot of players I was with - I had the luck to be in the same team with many good players over the years. If I have to choose two players, those would be Dimitris Diamantidis and Juan Carlos Navarro. These two players stand out from the group of great players I had the luck to play with."
Hi Jaka. As a Galatasaray fan, I am very glad that you are part of this dynasty. How long do you want to play for Galatasaray? We need your experience in the Top 16. I also hope to see you in your favorite coffee stores on the Anatolian side of town. :)
Doruk Engin - Istanbul, Turkey
"Thanks Doruk, I go to coffee stores very often! I am under contract with Galatasaray until the end of the 2012-13 season, but you never know what can happen in sports. I feel great playing for Galatasaray, I love this team and its people. I have only good words and good feeling about Galatasaray. I am looking forward to spending as much time as possible in this club."
Hi Jaka. Are there are any noticeable differences between the style of play in Spain and that of Turkey?
Craig - Melbourne, Australia
"It's an interesting question, Craig. These are two different basketball styles, no question about it. The Turkish style is much more physical, the referees allow much more contact. I think that the game is faster in Spain, with not so much contact - referees are strict about that and that makes the game cleaner, faster and gives room for more spectacular plays. Turkish basketball doesn't have that fast pace, but it is also at a very high level."
Hello Jaka. You played against Galatasaray's archrivals Fenerbahce Ulker a few weeks ago. How did it feel to be part of one of the biggest sports rivalries in Europe and can you compare the atmosphere with the other similar games you have been in before – Panathinaikos-Olympiacos and Barcelona-Madrid.
Cagri Akin - Turkey
"Thanks, Cagri. Well, like you said, we just played our first game against Fenerbahce this season. I had been told it would be a very intense game and just as I expected... everyone was right about it. The atmosphere was really hot and it could only be compared to a Panathinaikos - Olympiacos game. The Spanish classic is also a big game with a lot of tradition, but the atmosphere inside the arena is not as hot as in Turkey or Greece."
Hello Jaka, I am a Barca supporter, we miss you, Jaka! You are one of the best players in the competition and it was a pleasure for all fans to see you playing every week for five years! My question is: What team do you think will be the Euroleague winner in Istanbul and why? Thank you very much Jaka!
Joan Carles - Barcelona, Spain
"Thanks, Joan Carles. I have to say I spent five incredible years in Barcelona. I still miss the club, my teammates, the coaching staff and everybody around the team. We were all together, like a family. I miss the city, which I felt it was like my second home. As for who will win the Euroleague title, it is very hard to say but there are a couple of favorites, Barcelona and CSKA. We have seen some surprising teams reaching the Final Four in recent years. There are five, six or even more teams with good chances to go to the Final Four. It is very difficult to answer this question, but I would be surprised if Barcelona and CSKA don't reach the Final Four."
Hello Jaka. I know you have been impressed by the atmosphere that you have witnessed in Galatasaray Medical Park’s Euroleague games at Abdi Ipecki. As a former Panathinaikos and Barcelona player, how do you compare their atmospheres at home in terms on the effect they have on you during the game?
Ihsan Akkarpuz – Kocaeli, Turkey
"Hello Ihsan, thanks for your question. Like I said before, the atmosphere at Abdi Ipecki is just unbelievable. I have never experienced something like that before since I left Panathinaikos, where the atmosphere is also incredible. When you play at home with such a great crowd, it makes you play harder and give 120%. Not 100%, not 110%, but fan support allows you to go way beyond your limits. It is like having a sixth player on court!"
Hi Jaka. What are your goals in the last years of your career? What do you want to achieve in the Euroleague with Galatasaray Medical Park?
Deniz Sezer - Turkey
"It is an interesting question, Deniz. I am not looking at my career as if I am counting down the years to retire. I just want the same every year. I am a very competitive person and want to win as many games as possible - it was like that 10 years ago, and it is like this now. My goals with Galatasaray are to go as far as possible in the Euroleague and to win the Turkish League title."
Hello Jaka. How does it feel to live in Istanbul? Are you used to the city, what do you like most? As for the Top 16, do you think Galatasaray can overcame this tough group? Thank you very much.
Aykut Ayabakan - Istanbul, Turkey
"Thank you, Aykut. Living in Istanbul has been a great experience for me. I am loving every day of it. Istanbul can offer you everything you wish for. It is an enormous city with everything you need. The only negative thing is the traffic. It is really bad sometimes, but we try to get around when the roads are clear and there is no rush hour. As for Galatasaray, it is going to be a very difficult Top 16 group for all four teams. You cannot expect to face anything but great teams in the Top 16. If we play well and with full concentration, we can survive the Top 16. Of course, we will need a little bit of luck and the support of our great fans, which I am sure will be there!"