By Paul Nilsen
Galatasaray have made another significant move to further boost their EuroLeague Women prospects after striking a two season deal with former FIBA Europe Young Player of The Year Ginatre Petronyte. The Lithuanian star will step out onto the floor in Istanbul for her ambitious new team as they desperately try to move out of the shadow of city rivals Fenerbahce who have made plenty of noise so far during the off-season.
The acquisition of Petronyte who lifted EuroCup Women earlier this year with Sony Athinaikos having averaged over 9 points and 6 rebounds per game looks to be a great move. It certainly gives the frontcourt an exciting feel to it following hot on the heels of the arrival of EuroLeague Final Four winner Sylvia Fowles from Spartak Moscow.
Petronyte has already had a taste of playing in the competition after making her EuroLeague Women debut as a 17 year old with TEO Vilnius way back in 2006. However before she can focus on hooking up with her new club and treading the boards in Turkey, she must firstly try and help Lithuania book their place at Eurobasket Women 2011.
In addition to Petronyte, Galatasaray have added some depth to their ranks by bolstering their bench with the signatures of 21 year old Melek Bilge who arrives via Beskitas and Ceyda Kozluca who fired over 15 points per game last season for Kocaeli.
The club has high hopes for Bilge in particular and this is reflected by the five year contract she has been handed. The center is still seen as one of the most promising players in Turkey having grown up in the same generation of youth competition as Petronyte.
However, Bilge has yet to truly post the kind of big numbers required to realise her potential but clearly the club are confident she now has the capability to deliver and will no doubt be hoping the influence and experience of new team-mate Syl Fowles will rub off on the young center.