***Don't miss the clash of the two Turkish giants, Galatasaray and Fenerbahce, on day two of the EuroLeague Women Final Eight. You can also watch the rest of the Thursday games on FIBA Europe TV, under subscription.***
By Jeff Taylor
Nothing whets the appetite of a basketball fan in Turkey like a showdown between Fenerbahce and Galatasaray.
The fact that the two sides are meeting in the EuroLeague Women Final Eight at the Abdi Ipekci on Thursday makes the clash even more special.
Add to that Galatasaray's sense of urgency after their opening day defeat to Rivas Ecopolis, and the knowledge that superstar Diana Taurasi is going to pull out all stops in a bid to lead Gala past Fener, and the meeting has all the makings of a classic.
Fener pulled away from a resilient Beretta-Famila Schio on Wednesday, 74-58, while Rivas Ecopolis won 75-68 over Galatasaray.
After his team's triumph over Schio, George Dikeoulakos, the Fenerbahce coach, was asked about the club's rivalry with Galatasaray.
"For some people, this is a game of life and death," he said.
"For some people it's just a game.
"I would describe it as just a celebration."
Season So Far
- Fenerbahce have had no equals in the EuroLeague Women, winning all of their games this season. Some of the shine was taken off their season, however, when Galatasaray beat Fener earlier this month in the Turkish Cup Final.
- Galatasaray finished runners-up in Group A to Ros Casares after being swept by the Spanish side and losing at UMMC Ekaterinburg. Fenerbahce and Galatasaray are 19-3 in the Turkish league.
The Hot Hand
- Ivana Matovic couldn't have been more accurate with her shooting on Wednesday while pouring in 25 points against Beretta-Famila Schio. She drilled 10 of 12 shots from the field and all five of her free-throws.
- Tina Charles had 21 points on nine of 18 shooting for Gala in their setback to Rivas.
- Galatasaray need someone else who doesn't go by the name of Taurasi, Charles or Epiphanny Prince to make a major impact on the game and the point guard Isil Alben is capable of doing that, especially on defense.
- Nevriye Yilmaz had just six points and three rebounds against Schio but can be a big headache for Galatasaray if she gets on a roll.
Penny Taylor vs. Diana Taurasi. Australia international Taylor was in peak form against Schio for Fenerbahce, scoring 24 points and crashing the boards. She is sure to spend much of Thursday night guarding Taurasi, and attacking the American when Fener have the ball.