Taurasi Tips Hat To Turkish Basketball

16 April 2016
32. Diana Taurasi (UMMC Ekaterinburg)
Diana Taurasi flourished on her return to the Final Four

For one of the greatest players to have graced the women's game, a three year hiatus from the EuroLeague Women Final must seem like a lifetime for Diana Taurasi.

Yet despite those last couple of absences, Final Four and the UMMC Ekaterinburg star still feel like they fit together like a hand in a glove.

Although perhaps that's not the greatest analogy ahead of Sunday's Final at the Ulker Sports Arena, since Taurasi is standing on the cusp of a spectacular sixth title and has already used up those first five fingers.

There's little doubt that the season-ending finale holds a big motivation for the veteran - evidenced by the fact she returned to the Final Four with 21 points for her side against reigning champions ZVVZ USK Prague in Friday's Semi-Finals.

"It was strange coming back to the Final Four format after it switched back from Final Eight and I am just excited to be back in it," enthused Taurasi, ahead of Sunday's Final showdown with history-making rookies Nadezhda.

"It brings out the best in both the teams and in the individual, because you know that if you lose, then you're done - there really is no coming back.

"I think our team understands that, since we have a certain amount of players who have won EuroLeague Women titles and the coach has also won one.

"We know what it takes and it's not the easiest thing, but if everyone is going in the right direction, then hopefully good things will happen for us."

Yet for all of her glittering success, there's an irony in the fact Taurasi could be about to win her latest EuroLeague Women title in Istanbul - a city which holds special significance.

Special because she played for both Turkish sporting powerhouses in Fenerbahce and Galatasaray - yet was unable to inspire either to a first EuroLeague Women title and it's a void 

13. Diana Taurasi (Fenerbahce)
Taurasi previously spent time in Istanbul playing for both Fenerbahce and Galatasaray

which stands out on an otherwise trophy laden resume.

Yet while silverware wasn't forthcoming and there was also some controversy around her time in Istanbul, Taurasi has been quick to highlight her affection for Turkish basketball.

"It's an amazing city for basketball and an amazing country for sport - they also love and support their country and club teams like no other country I have seen," she stated.

"The passion inside the Arena is crazy with the Fenerbahce fans - just like it was for the men, earlier in the week against Real Madrid.

"I had some really good times here and while it didn't end particularly well at Fenerbahce, I still have tremendous respect of the club and what they have done

"Especially how they have been able to get to this point, because ten years ago, nobody really knew Turkish basketball.

"Now Turkey are one of the best teams in Europe in terms of the national team and they also have clubs like Fenerbahce, Galatasaray and Kayseri [Agu Spor].

"They have really put basketball on the map in Turkey and I have to give a lot of respect to everyone involved in that," she concluded.

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