Turk Telekom Ankara is back in the 7DAYS EuroCup after a two-season hiatus and the club will not be an easy team to beat with a good mix of foreign and domestic players – including several with winning experience.
Coach Burak Goren can rely on a strong and experienced backcourt led by Alex Perez, Aaron Harrison and Aubrey Dawkins. Perez had several magnificent performances in the EuroCup last season both as a scorer and playmaker with Bahcesehir Koleji last season before finishing the campaign in the EuroLeague with Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul. Can Ugur Ogut provides the team with a natural point guard. Last season he ranked second in the Turkish League in assists with Gaziantep. Harrison played last season in the EuroLeague with Olympiacos Piraeus, and he has flashed his scoring ability for two seasons in the EuroCup with Galatasaray Istanbul. Dawkins is an elite shooter and tough defender at the small forward position. He could turn a lot of heads in his first season in the EuroCup. Tyler Ennis, who is recovering from a torn Achilles Tendon last season, is progressing in his rehab and could strengthen the lineup at some point during the season. Dorukan Engindeniz is expected to add scoring punch off the bench. Engindeniz, who does most of his damage from downtown, four times last season tallied more than 16 points for Socar Petkimspor including 22 in the season finale. Burak Gozeneli, 21, will fight for minutes in his third season with the club's senior squad, while teenager Batuhan Acar will gain experience in his first season at this level.
One of the frontcourt leaders will be JaJuan Johnson, who last season helped FC Bayern Munich make history by reaching the EuroLeague Playoffs for the first time. The 32-year-old Johnson is also a former EuroCup champion, having won the competition with Darussafaka Istanbul in 2018. All that experience will be a big help for the club. One player who will benefit is Octavius Ellis, who played the last season and a half with Olympiacos Piraeus after previously playing in the EuroCup with Promitheas Patras. Elis is a rebounding machine and a shot-blocking presence. Samet Geyik is back after a strong first season with Turk Telekom. The 28-year-old brings a low-post presence to the club. Berk Demir has 33 games of EuroLeague experience with Anadolu Efes Istanbul and Darussafaka, with whom he also played in the EuroCup in 2019-20. The power forward will help stretch the floor with his shooting, too. Back in the EuroCup after five years away is Erdi Gulasan, whose energy and outside shooting will help the team off the bench. Another player who could help out in the low blocks is Saadettin Donat, a 20-year-old former Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul center prospect who was with Galatasaray last season.
PLAYER TO WATCH
While Turk Telekom is loaded in the backcourt, center Octavius Ellis could be the key to the team’s season. The 28-year-old big man has excelled when given the chance to play. He ranked 11th in rebounds in the EuroCup in 2019-20 with Promitheas and was sixth in rebounds per 40 minutes with 12.3 boards. In the EuroLeague last season, Ellis corralled 4.1 rebounds in just 14 minutes a game - which stretched out over 40 minutes ranked second best at 12.3 rebounds. Ellis also was seventh in blocks per 40 minutes with 2.04 rejections. The fact that Ellis likes to play around the basket will free up more space for JaJuan Johnson, who likes to take jump shots. Ellis will also be reuniting with Aaron Harrison after playing with him last season at Olympiacos.
Half the roster has experience in the EuroCup and Coach Goren has five players back from last season. The team is filled with hungry players looking for a chance to prove themselves in bigger roles. Turk Telekom has no limits and may get even stronger with the potential mid-season return of Ennis. The start of the season will not be easy for the team, but once it gets rolling Turk Telekom could become a team its opponents start to fear.