|02 April 2014|
| Shavonte Zellous has been a key offensive ingredient for Galatasaray odeabank this season|
Fresh from leading Galatasaray odeabank to the regular season title in the Turkish League, leading scorer Shavonte Zellous is preparing to play at her first EuroLeague Women Final Eight.
The Istanbul heavyweights are heading back to Russia this weekend no doubt hoping to improve on their last trip to Ekaterinburg, when they failed to record a victory.
However, with the firepower of Zellous to call upon, the outlook appears to be much brighter this year for Galatasaray.
"Our main goal is to just go out, play hard and to compete," declared the backcourt star.
"We aim to leave absolutely everything we have on the court, since whatever result we get will be determined on how hard we have played."
The 27-year-old signed for Galatasaray last summer from Mersin Buyuksehir after a scintillating debut season in the TKBL and ever since putting pen to paper for the powerhouse, she has never looked back.
It is likely she will be one of the players that will spearhead the challenge of Ekrem Memnun and his team when the action gets underway in DIVS Arena.
Zellous is expecting a difficult campaign against three opponents they have had mixed success against so far this season.
She said, "We have a pretty hard group in front of us and my general thoughts on it are pretty simple.
"We have two Turkish teams that we will battle against who we know well and we are also going up against a Sparta&K team that we have also both won and lost against.
"But, we are pretty focused and determined to play the best basketball we know how to play."
Zellous scored 17 points last weekend as Galatasaray delivered a timely boost ahead of their Final Eight campaign by beating Fenerbahce and adding the TKBL regular season title to the Turkish Cup they won earlier in the year.
Schedule: Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje(07/04), Fenerbahce (08/04), Kayseri Kaski spor (09/04)
|Alba Torrens' injuries appear to be a thing of the past with her contribution this year expected to be much bigger than one year ago |
Headline Writer: Spanish sensation Alba Torrens is undoubtedly women's basketball box-office. She reminded everyone at EuroBasket Women 2013 how she can influence the biggest games. After scoring 0, 6 and 4 points across the three games last year at the Final Eight whilst still on her way back from serious injury, you can expect her to write headlines of a more prominent and positive note this time. And remember, this is the floor where Torrens won the EuroLeague Women title three years ago with Halcon Avenida.
‘X-Factor': Galatasaray must convert and be clinical in the paint to be successful. Only a slight uplift could be absolutely vital, since nobody in the frontcourt is having a dominant season right now. With memories of their struggles last season, perhaps Zellous has hit the nail on the head. If they play hard, make some shots and get near to their potential, they have as much chance as anyone else of making the podium. Perhaps the one question mark is who will take the clutch shot in a tight game? The question is raised as they have only really had two very tight encounters all season in the competition and lost them both (against ZVVZ USK Prague).
Unsung Hero: Veteran forward Sebnem Kimyacioglu has been a real pillar of strength and consistency for Coach Memnun. She has played almost 17 minutes per game, but rarely gets the kind of attention she deserves due to the presence of the likes of EuroBasket Women MVP, Sancho Lyttle or Turkish national team star, Bahar Caglar. But, her experience has been an important element and her appetite for the intangibles is an important ingredient.
Number Crunching: Galatasaray are very good at taking care of the ball on offence. They commit 12.4 turnovers per game, a figure which is the lowest tally of any of the eight teams heading to Ekaterinburg. Meanwhile the numbers 65, 51 and 44 are the scores which Galatasaray registered last year at the event and they will know they must be more prolific this time around.
In Just Eight Words: Improvement on 2013 certain, could be dark horse.