22 September, 2021
07 April, 2022
15 Tina Krajisnik (GALA)
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Will the towering presence of Tina Krajisnik take Galatasaray to a third EuroCup Women title?

ISTANBUL (Turkey) - During an indisputably roller-coaster of a season for Turkish giants Galatasaray, the one constant has been the towering presence and production of Serbian standout Tina Krajisnik.

Throughout a campaign which has incorporated both the EuroLeague Women Regular Season and most recently helping  to reach the EuroCup Women Final Four, the center has been largely unstoppable.


Krajisnik is ready to try and take Galatasaray to success in Bourges

While there have been a few bumps in the road. Galatasaray and Krajisnik are now just two wins away from what would be a history-equaling third EuroCup Women title and their Semi-Final clash with Final Four hosts Bourges Basket looks set to be a classic.

"When I look back and analyze the season, there have been so many ups and downs," mused Krajisnik.

"I wish it had been different at times because so many things have happened to the team. It has been quite an experience dealing with those difficult situations. There have been so many injuries with players coming in and out, as well as the general changing of the roster which has been tough for us at times.  But I still hope we can make the most of it.

"It has been really intense and we still have a lot to do because this is the most important time of the season. We have a big opportunity to win EuroCup Women and maybe also win the Turkish championship after that too.

She continued: "Now we are just trying to prepare for Bourges and it is important to reach the Final that we focus on taking this first step - before then trying to then win the title.

"We know it will be a difficult game as they are hosting and I have played against Bourges so many times in my career and they are a EuroLeague Women level club. They play team basketball with a good system. They have good players in each position and it will be a challenge for us. But we have a style of game that will be tricky for them too. I really believe we will prepare well and win the Semi-Final to go to the Final. 

"There is a lot of excitement because this club has history having won it twice before. Everybody is talking about it and are very expectant of the team. The players also have some extra focus now because of the opportunity that we have in front of us," enthused Krajisnik.


Galatasaray won EuroCup Women 2018 when Serbian national team coach Marina Maljkovic was at the helm

There's a direct link between the 31-year-old and the last title that Galatasaray won four years ago in Venice against Umana Reyer, since it was her national team head coach Marina Maljkovic who led the Istanbul side to the silverware. 

"If we win the title again it will be such an honor for me as a player to be part of the history of the club and especially as I actually remember watching the Final when they won with Marina coaching," said Krajisnik.

"In fact. everyone is still talking about that game even now. I am sure we can revive those good memories and make one more title for this great club. I also want to put my own name there, right amongst all those previous names that have brought Galatasaray success."

Krajisnik won the FIBA Women's EuroBasket last year with Maljkovic and played at Tokyo 2020

It's not a surprise that before making the move to Galatasaray last summer, Krajisnik sounded out her Serbian head coach as to what she could expect and especially from the pressure-cooker atmosphere.

She revealed: "When I decided to come here I knew some things about Marina (Maljkovic) being here before and she told me how big the club was and how interesting it can be.

"I mean I already knew about a lot of it from playing against them and about things like their rivalry with Fenerbahce. I expected it to be intense and it's exciting having all those amazing fans cheering for you.

"It can be a really good experience with the supporters and being part of a huge club. It was one of the reasons I chose to go to Istanbul."


Krajisnik played at multiple EuroLeague Women Final Fours with Sopron Basket

It's true that it probably shocked many observers that Krajisnik parted with Sopron Basket at the end of last season, having enjoyed a sharp increase in profile and plenty of success with the Hungarian champions.

However she claimed that she would never forget the experience and still supports her former club.

"Sopron is a club I love, where I had my first EuroLeague Women experience and I still have contact with their players and coaches, so I am always following them them," she smiled.

"I am  happy they got back to the EuroLeague Women Final Four and I will go to watch them with it being in Istanbul. I will be cheering for them because I really grew up there for four years and having success made me a better player.

"It's just that I felt I needed to change the environment and have a new challenge in a different league and I needed that for myself. I had to think about how I could get out of my comfort zone and as I am getting older, I wanted to test myself more."


The massive numbers Krajisnik has put up this season for Galatasaray have certainly stemmed from how she grew so impressively with Sopron - even if it was not necessarily recognized by everyone. Something that led to her being labelled as potentially the most underrated player in EuroLeague Women and something of a late bloomer on the big stage.

"I am laughing because I have heard this label before about me being the most underrated player, but I am not sure how people come to this conclusion or evaluate this," stated Krajisnik.

"I have felt like I have really grown up in these past seasons. I have developed a lot as a player and I have learned to enjoy it more. I have felt better on the court as a result.

"My history is tough with so many injuries when I was younger. It took me a few years to get into my best shape and to get to the highest level. But I am really happy that I eventually got to where I was supposed to. If it is meant to be, you will get there - or at least with hard work," she concluded.

Now there's  a lot more of that hard work still to come - starting with facing up against Bourges Basket on Tuesday night.