ISTANBUL (EuroBasket/FIBA World Championship) - When Turkey showed up at the 2006 FIBA World Championship in Japan after being presented with a wild card to take part, virtually no one rated their chances.
The team led by veteran coach Bogdan Tanjevic was without the country’s brightest stars, NBA players Hedo Turkoglu and Mehmet Okur, and the national side was in a 'group of death' in the Preliminary Round.
Turkey had to survive Group C in Hamamatsu, Japan, that included European champions Greece, powerhouse Lithuania, Oceania juggernauts Australia, South American giants Brazil and Asian minnows Qatar.
Tanjevic's side not only survived, but thrived.
The players showed as much grit and determination as any team at the event and finished second.
Next they defeated Slovenia to reach the Quarter-Finals before falling to Argentina, who held top spot in the FIBA Rankings Men at the time.
Serkan Erdogan, who led Turkey in Japan with an average of 15.4 points per game, was indispensible.
The 1.94m shooting guard had 19 points in a key win against Brazil while in a narrow defeat to Greece, he drilled five three-balls and finished with a game-high 30.
Erdogan might have padded his statistics against lightweights Qatar but Tanjevic rested him for that game.
His last summer with Turkey was 2007, when he was the squad preparing for the EuroBasket in Spain until a knee injury forced him to withdraw just four days before the start of the tournament.
Erdogan talks about the national team like it's the biggest honor a player can have in Turkey.
"I quit the national team in 2007 but I played there for five good years," he said to FIBA.com.
"It was a great honour for me.
"It's a dream for every young player in Turkey to be in that team."
Several years later and Erdogan is on the books of Banvit in Turkey.
His boss is Orhun Ene, a former national team guard who was the coach of Turkey's national side at EuroBasket 2011.
Turkey fell short of the Quarter-Finals in Lithuania under Ene and he decided he wasn’t experienced enough to hold the reins.
But he has enhanced his reputation at the helm of Banvit, a side that has this year made it to the Eurocup Last 16 and is also level with Turkish Basketbol Ligi leaders Fenerbahce with 14 wins and just two defeats.
It’s unclear who if Tanjevic, who returned to the helm last summer, is going to continue to lead Turkey at EuroBasket 2013 when they try to qualify for the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup, or if the federation will put someone else in charge.
While it may be too soon for Ene to take over again, Erdogan says the Banvit tactician is likely to coach Turkey again one day.
"Why not?" Erdogan said.
"He's a young coach, a talented coach and he's got a great future ahead of him."
Erdogan, now 34, is still playing yet also considering what might be in his future.
Will he one day follow in Ene's footsteps and become a coach?
“I hope," he said.
"I want to be a coach one day.
"That’s my dream, that’s my dream.”