Anadolu Efes Istanbul
Anadolu Efes Istanbul was founded in 1976 and needed little time to start collecting titles, with the club’s first Turkish League trophy arriving in 1979. More domestic crowns were consistently claimed, but Efes did not become a true powerhouse or a contender on the European stage until the 1990s, when Coach Aydin Ors led the team to five Turkish championships in six seasons as well as the 1993 Saporta Cup Final. Then, in 1996, Efes became the first Turkish club to win a European title when Petar Naumoski and Ufuk Sarica joined forces with Conrad McRae and a young Mirsad Turkcan to take the Korac Cup. Efes soon became a EuroLeague regular and in 2000 the club achieved another first among Turkish teams by making the Final Four, a milestone it repeated in the 2001 SuproLeague with Hedo Turkoglu, Mehmet Okur, Predrag Drobnjak, Ibrahim Kutluay and Damir Mulaomerovic leading the way. Efes came within one shot of reaching the 2004 Final Four too, and maintained its domestic dominance throughout that period by winning four consecutive Turkish championships from 2002 through 2005. After a relative dip in fortunes over the next decade, a return to the Final Four proved elusive as Efes suffered three playoffs series defeats between 2013 and 2017. But the appointment of experienced Coach Ergin Ataman – along with the recruitment of several proven performers – sparked an upturn that saw a team powered by Shane Larkin and Vasilije Micic reach the Championship Game in 2019, denied title glory by CSKA Moscow. Efes led both the 2019-20 Turkish League and EuroLeague regular seasons when they were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that disappointment only served to make Ataman and his men even hungrier. A year later, the club’s ascent to the summit was successfully concluded with a Championship Game victory over FC Barcelona at the 2021 Final Four in Cologne. Under the guidance of Ataman, virtually the same roster had been together for three years, while Micic was named both EuroLeague and Final Four MVP. That triumph was followed rapidly by another Turkish League title, further confirming Efes’s place among the elite of European basketball.