Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul, the 7DAYS EuroCup champion last season, returns to the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague ready to be fully competitive. Led by head coach Ergin Ataman, Galatasaray has put together a deep, competitive roster by signing players with valuable EuroLeague experience and exciting newcomers. Playmaker Justin Dentmon, point forward Emir Preldzic and big men Deon Thompson, Alex Tyus and Tibor Pleiss belong to that first group, while scoring ace Russ Smith and versatile forward Austin Daye arrive to the EuroLeague ready to take Galatasaray deep into the competition.
Dentmon returns to the EuroLeague after a great 2013-14 campaign, in which he led the Top 16 in scoring for Zalgiris Kaunas. A great shooter with unlimited range, Dentmon also knows how to find the open man when double-teamed. Smith is also a reliable scorer with a really quick release, especially off the dribble. Both Dentmon and Smith thrive in open-court situations, so expect Galatasaray to continue playing up-tempo, just as last season. Jon Diebler is a top-class three-point shooters who gives Galatasaray even more firepower. Sinan Guler and Goksenin Koksal are two fan-favorite guards due to their intensity, heart and determination. Preldzic offers his versatility and very valuable experience in what will be his 10th EuroLeague season. Safak Edge and Can Korkmaz are expected to see limited playing time off the bench.
Coach Ataman has a versatile group of big men who give him a lot of tactical options under the baskets. Daye can provide size, scoring skills and athleticism at power forward. He will try to make it to the Final Four just as his father, Darren Daye, did with Scavolini Pesaro in 1991. Vlado Micov and Blake Schilb saw playing time at both forward spots last season, and their mutual versatility gave Galatasaray a lot of advantages. Micov is a solid shooter with good all-around skills, never afraid of taking big shots. Schilb has deep range and can take better shots off the dribble. Both players can put the ball on the floor and generate for others. Deon Thompson is a good rebounder with smooth post kills. At center, Pleiss and Tyus are rock-solid options on defense and good finishers on offense. Expect them to power the offensive glass all season long.
PLAYER TO WATCH
He impressed everyone in his only previous EuroLeague season and Dentmon is back after three years elsewhere. Dentmon is a playmaker with all-around scoring skills. He can drive to the basket with excellent results and can also hit shots with unlimited range. He made 44.3% of his three-point attempts with Zalgiris in the 2012-13 season, taking almost 7 shots from downtown per game. Moreover, Dentmon is a smart playmaker who knows when to get his teammates involved, and a fighter on defense, putting pressure on the ball. Expect him to be Galatasaray's floor general this season.
After winning the EuroCup and putting together a good team, Galatasaray wants to keep its momentum going. Every game at Abdi Ipekci Arena will be a basketball celebration, with a sea of red and yellow fans singing at the top of their lungs. That kind of extraordinary support will be needed right away as Galatasaray plays three of its four opening games at home against last season's EuroLeague finalists - CSKA Moscow and Fenerbahce Istanbul - and a playoffs squad like Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade. Galatasaray has all it takes - a deep roster, great fans, an experienced coach and strong tradition - to reach high, but consistency will be the key word for the Turkish powerhouse.