Inside the quarterfinals: FC Bayern Munich vs. Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul

Mar 07, 2016 by Print
Inside the quarterfinals: FC Bayern Munich vs. Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul

Uncharted territory

This is first Eurocup quarterfinals appearance for Bayern and first time since 2008 that Galatasaray has reached this stage. Galatasaray is making its fifth appearance in the competition. It reached ULEB Cup Final Eight in Turin, Italy in 2008, where it faced Besiktas JK Istanbul, which was coached by current Galatasaray boss Ergin Ataman, and edged its city rival 60-61 on a game-winning three-pointer by Cuneyt Erden. Two days later Galatasaray was ousted in the semifinals by the eventual champ DKV Joventut Badalona 90-83. Bayern is in its third Eurocup season, and it got into the elimination rounds for the first time last season. However, after going undefeated in the Last 32, Bayern then lost in a two-game eighthfinals series against Valencia Basket by an aggregate scorer of 174-118.

Bayern's depth

There are no statistical categories where Bayern stands out. For instance, it is ranked outside of top 10 Eurocup teams in scoring (80.3), middle-of-the-pack in rebounding (32.9) and assists (16.3). In that Last 32, Bayern did not have a single player ranked in the top 25 in either scoring or rebounding, nor a player in top 10 in assists. One reason for that, however, is that head coach Svetislav Peisc has a really deep squad. In the eight Eurocup games that Bayern has played so far, already 10 different players have scored in double digits at least once. Bayern has seven different players averaging at least 8 points, a group led by Nihad Djedovic (14.5 ppg.). Meanwhile, during the Last 32 there were six different players who averaged at least 4 rebounds per night, led by Dusko Savanovic (4.6 rpg). Especially in a short, two-game series, it can be a great advantage for a team to have such contributions from most of its rotation and not be dependent on a single player or two who could get injured or just have off nights.

Galata's shootouts

The recipe for beating Galatasaray to this point has been slowing down the game tempo and its offense, because teams have not really been able to outscore head coach Ergin Ataman's squad at all. On its way to the quarterfinals, Galatasaray has scored at least 86 points in 11 of its 12 wins. Galatasaray's offense ranks fourth in the competition with 84.3 points per game, but that average rises to 89.8 in victories. On the other hand, in its six defeats, Galatasaray reached 80 points only once, and in those games its scoring average drops to 73.2 points. Despite that drop, only one team beat Galatasaray by more than 6 points – CAI Zaragoza 85-68 in Round 5 of the Last 32 – but that happened to be one of four games that the team's top scorer, Errick McCollum, missed due to injury.

Goksenin Koksal - Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul - EC15 (photo Galatasaray)

Individuals who can dominate

Errick McCollum fuels Galatasaray's offense and ranks third among all Eurocup scorers this season with 19.5 points per game. He is also the competition's top-rated player due to an average performance index rating of 22.8, which is buoyed by his 4.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1 steal per night. In the season opener against Neptunas Klaipeda, McCollum netted 32 points: only six players managed to surpass that total since then, but none of them are still playing. Galatasaray's big man Stephane Lasme ranks second among quarterfinalists with 6.4 rebounds per game. His 9 offensive rebounds in a Last 32 game against Dinamo Banco di Sardegna Sassari is tied for the best total this season and seventh-best every in the Eurocup. Another Galatasaray player, Blake Schilb, is the competition's most accurate three-point shooter at 54.2%. Bayern does not lack individuals who can dominate the game. During the Last 32 only five players managed to score more than the 28 points that Nihad Djedovic netted against Banvit Bandirma. In that same game, Alex Renfroe dished 13 assists, one shy of competition's season-high and the most in the Last 32 this season.

Coaches with trophies

Neither Svetislav Pesic of Bayern nor Ergin Ataman of Galatasaray have won the Eurocup, but neither is a stranger to winning trophies. Pesic is one of the deans among European coaches. After winning 1979 Euroleague title with Bosna Sarajevo as a player, he turned to coaching, and during his 35 years on the sidelines, the Eurocup is one of rare major trophies he is still missing. Pesic won the 2003 Euroleague with FC Barcelona, the 1995 Korac Cup with ALBA Berlin and the 2007 FIBA Eurocup with Akasvayu Girona. He was a European champion with the German national team in 1993, and led the former Yugoslavia to 2001 EuroBasket and 20012 World Championships gold medals. Pesic also led his clubs to eight national league titles and four national cups, in Yugoslavia, Germany and Spain. Ataman, on the other hand, has led teams he coached to a dozen trophies over the last two decades, including the 2002 Saporta Cup with Montepaschi Siena. He guided Anadolu Efes Istanbul and Siena to Euroleague Final Four appearances, and also won Turkish league, cup and supercup crowns with five different teams: Galatasaray, Besiktas, Efes, Ulker and Turk Telekom.