2016-17 Team Profile: Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul
Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul made its successful Turkish Airlines Euroleague debut last season. The team was prepared well and loaded with experience, which helped as it won its historic Euroleague opener against Dinamo Banco di Sardegna Sassari in overtime. With head coach Oktay Mahmuti on the sidelines, and led by Jamon Gordon, Milko Bjelica and Semih Erden, Darussafaka later registered back-to-back road wins at Maccabi Tel Aviv and Sassari and a home win over Unicaja Malaga. It lost its regular season finale against Maccabi, but advanced to the Top 16 on a point difference before it faced a rough start to the Top 16. Darussafaka was on the wrong end of several dramatic finishes in the first five games of that phase, but then bounced back and went on to win five of its final nine games to finish a historic season on a high note.
Founded as a multi-sport club in 1914, Darussafaka found early success in football and volleyball before opening its basketball section in 1951. It took Darussafaka a decade to win its first Turkish League title in 1961. The club made its European debut in the 1961-62 Champions Cup and survived the two-game eighthfinals series against Hapoel Tel Aviv before losing to eventual champion Dinamo Tbilisi in the quarterfinals. Darussafaka bounced back and successfully defended its Turkish League title in 1962, but it would prove to be the club's last major trophy to date. Darussafaka ceased to be a title contender soon after that, went down to the second division in 1968 and did not return to the Turkish elite until the 1992-93 season. The team soon became a Turkish League playoffs regular and returned to European competitions after a 35-year absence in 1997-98 season. Led by Mike Ansley and William Strothers it lost against Crvena Zvezda in the Korac Cup eighthfinals. And in the next season was ousted at the same stage by FC Barcelona. Darussafaka reached either the Korac Cup or Saporta Cup eighthfinals over four consecutive years and took part in the ULEB Cup's maiden season in 2002-03 and then returned to the competition two years later to post a winning record. The club also advanced to the Turkish Cup final in 2002, but lost to Efes Pilsen. Cevher Ozer, Cuneyt Erden and Acie Earl were some of its best-known players in the early 2000s, when Darussafaka reached the Turkish League semifinals in 2001 and 2002. The team lost some of its competitiveness by the end of the decade and fell to the Turkish second division in 2010. After Dogus Group took the club over, Darussafaka quickly delivered by returning to the Turkish elite division in 2014. The next year it reached the Turkish Cup semifinals and finished third in the Turkish League regular season before losing in the playoff quarterfinals against Trabzonspor. Last season, Darussafaka reached Turkish Airlines Euroleague Top 16 in its debut in that competition and was seconds away from its first trophy in more than 50 years, but lost the Turkish Cup final against Fenerbahce Istanbul on a buzzer-beating triple. In the Turkish League playoffs, Darussafaka swept its best-of-three quarterfinal series against Banvit Bandirma before getting ousted by Anadolu Efes in the semis, which ended the club's historic season.