Pre-draw profile: Galatasaray Medical Park

Dec 27, 2011 by Print
Luksa Andric - Galatasaray Medical Park
Luksa Andric
Galatasaray Medical ParkOne of the most venerable clubs in European sports has rejoined basketball's elite, as Galatasaray Medical Park has gone from the all the way from the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Qualifying Rounds to the Top 16. Galatasaray knocked off PAOK BC, Asvel Basket and host Lietuvos Rytas to get to the Euroleague regular season for the first time in club history. Galatasaray had returned to prominence by finishing second in the Turkish League last season while winning its first game in the playoff finals in more than two decades. It was a welcome revival for a club that is responsible for having introduced basketball to Turkey and at one point won 15 national titles in 43 years. Started in 1905, Galatasaray is one of the oldest sports clubs in the world and takes its name from Galatasaray Lycee, a school founded in 1481. A teacher at the school brought basketball to Turkey in 1911. The club's basketball section opened in the early 1930s and found instant success, winning three consecutive Istanbul League titles from 1933 to 1936. Once World War II ended, Galatasaray kept dominating Turkish basketball with 16 Istanbul League titles and 11 Turkish championship trophies between 1940 and 1966. The club also competed well continentally, reaching the Euroleague eighthfinals in 1961 and 1964. Another Turkish League title in 1969 was followed by a 15-year drought until Galatasaray had its last spate of dominance, winning three more national titles between 1985 and 1990, the last of its Turkish League titles, won behind the effort of stars like Michaelle Scearce, Turgay Demirel, Paul Dawkins Hakan Yorukoglu, Lutfu Aribogan and Cem Caniklioglu. In Europe, Galatasaray stayed competitive, making eight consecutive Korac Cup appearances from 1993 and 2001, reaching the eighthfinals in 2000. Its current resurgence started in 2008, when Galatasaray showed it was no average Eurocup newcomer. With a memorable shot by Cuneyt Erden, Galatasaray reached the Eurocup semifinals before losing against eventual champion DKV Joventut. Last season, Galatasaray made its second consecutive appearance in the Eurocup Last 16, but could advance no further. At home in Turkey, however, its 22 regular season wins - the most by the club in a long time - proved no fluke as head coach Oktay Mahmuti marched his team through to the finals. A solid core of contributors featuring Ermal Kuqo, Josh Shipp and Luksa Andric kept getting better throughout the spring. In the finals, Galatasaray challenged eventual winner Fenerbahce Ulker through six games before dropping the last of those by 3 points. This season, newcomer like Jaka Lakovic, Furkan Aldemir or Darius Songaila have allowed Galatasaray to get to the Top 16. Euroleague games are celebrated at Abdi Ipecki Sports Hall like never before. Expect the basketball atmosphere to be even better in each and every Galatasaray home game, as its great fans try to push the team beyond its limits from now on.