Club profile: Turk Telekom Ankara

Aug 11, 2021 by Print
Club profile: Turk Telekom Ankara

Turk Telekom Ankara enters its sixth experience in the competition, but it is just its second time around since 2010. One of the traditional powerhouses in Turkish basketball, Telekom comfortably made it to the Turkish League playoffs last season and is ready to keep its momentum building. It is a perfect fit: an ambitious club looking for new, high-level challenges.

The club was founded in 1954, backed by the national telephone company PTT, though its basketball section did not open until 1980. PTT Ankara played in several regional leagues throughout the 1980s, before joining the second division in 1990 and immediately earning promotion to the Turkish first division. Turk Telekom went on to win the Turkish League regular season in 1994, though it fell in the playoff semifinals. Around that time, Turk Telekom also began making waves in Europe, coached by Ergin Ataman, and even played in the 1996-97 EuroLeague, the same season in which the team also reached the Turkish League finals and won the Turkish President's Cup, the club's first title.

A few trips to the playoff semifinals and appearances in the Turkish Cup final in 2001 and 2003 cemented Telekom's status among the best clubs in Turkey. Three years after making its EuroCup debut, Telekom was back and looked like a contender after Khalid El-Amin and Michael Wright led it to a 9-1 regular season with its only loss coming against eventual champ DKV Joventut, however Wright was lost to injury and the team fell to UNICS Kazan in the first knockout stage. In each of the next two seasons, the club advanced one stage in the competition, but no more. The club won the Turkish Cup and reached the Turkish finals in 2008 and lifted the Presidents Cup in 2009, however soon a lengthy dry spell ensued. Telekom failed to claim a Turkish League playoff berth for four seasons from 2010 through 2014, and was relegated to the second division for the 2016-17 campaign. It took the club two years to dig itself back to the top league, but a 26-2 start last season allowed the team to cruise to first place and a guaranteed ticket back to the top league and a spot in the EuroCup.

In its last EuroCup appearance, Telekom kept its Top 16 chances open until the last game, led by Vladimir Stimac and Sylven Landesberg, but a road loss against Partizan NIS Belgrade prevented the team from going past the Regular Season. The club made it to the Turkish League playoffs in 2019 and 2021, and it is a first step to be more competitive in the near future. Last season, Telekom was one win away from the Turkish League semifinals. In 2020, the club reached the Turkish Cup semifinals but Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul stood on its way to the final with a narrow 83-81 victory.

Telekom is clearly on the rise and ready for bigger goals. As one of the main sports references in Ankara, the Turkish capital, Telekom has all it takes to be successful in the 2021-22 EuroCup.