|31 October 2013|
|Ayse Cora has proven herself at youth level. Now she has to step up her game and match it at the senior level|
We take a look at the Euroleague Women prospects of the Turkish heavyweights Galatasaray odeabank as they seek a third successive Final Eight appearance.
Last Season: They finished runners-up in Group C with a very respectable 9-3 record, although had to find composure and quality down the stretch in quite a few tight games. They despatched regular season rivals ZVVZ USK Prague in the play-offs to advance to Final Eight, but they missed the services of the influential and departed Lindsay Whalen and endured some tough times. They lost all three games in Ekaterinburg against Good Angels Kosice, CCC Polkowice and the eventual champions, UMMC Ekaterinburg.
Significant Summer Departures: The legendary Ann Wauters, frontcourt star Sylvia Fowles and fellow American Lindsey Harding, sharp-shooter Eshaya Murphy and veteran Turkish national team wing player Saziye Ivegin.
Roster Review: Top of the Turkish league and unbeaten so far, the early season signs are encouraging, although they would be even more so if EuroBasket Women MVP Sancho Lyttle was back in the pack and recovered from injury, because she is a phenomenal defensive presence. Fellow Spanish forward Vanessa Ble has been drafted in as cover, although Turkish kingpin Nevriye Yilmaz and new signing Kelsey Bone have been operating most effectively together under the hoop so far. Power forward Bahar Caglar always plays a big part for both club and country and she continues in a Galatasaray vest, as does wing wizard Alba Torrens. The Spanish ace looks re-energised and should be a big factor in transition and at the defensive end. Another defensive specialist is long-serving playmaker Isil Alben, who has a new backcourt partner in Shavonte Zellous. The American guard is likely to be the main source of points production in the team. After all, she led the Turkish league in scoring with Mersin last year when she racked up an impressive 22.3 points-per-game. Meanwhile the likes of Esra Sencebe, Ozge Yavaz and Ayse Cora should add valuable back up coming off the bench.
Headline Stealer: Alba Torrens was naturally signed in a blaze of glory and after the interruption of serious injury, she looked recovered, rejuvenated and back to her magical best at EuroBasket Women when shining with the gold-medal winning Spanish national team. The fate of Galatasaray odeabank this season dose not rest solely in the hands of Torrens, but her contribution will go a long way to dictating the level of success attained. She remains one of the most exciting and dynamic players in the women's basketball world and will get even better with added maturity and experience.
Sliding Onto The Radar: Ayse Cora has enjoyed a very fruitful youth career in a Turkish national team vest and after signing off with a bronze medal at the U20 European Championship Women on home soil in Samsun, it's time for her to now press for more court time at club level. She can put points on the board and pose a danger offensively, she works hard and so either during this season or most likely next year, she will need to make her breakthrough if she wants to show she has what it takes to potentially be a top level player.
Scanning The Schedule: There is nothing for the Turkish giants to be afraid of in a wide open group which gives them a great chance of progressing and they also benefit from a very reasonably balanced fixture list. They will play Perfumerias Avenida, WBC Novi Zagreb, CCC Polkowice, Kibirkstis-Vici Vilnius, ZVVZ USK Prague and Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje.
‘Twittertastic': Look out for @kelseybone3 @isilalben10 @bhr9.
In Just Ten Words: Still have exceptional big-hitters so can target Final Eight.