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 TURKEY (TUR)
2nd appearance (2 consecutive)

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Time for redemption? But with whom?

EuroBasket 2005 was a catastrophe for Turkey. The team played well below expectations. And in the aftermath every one pointed fingers at each other. The 2006 FIBA World Championship in Japan could be the place for the “12 Giant Men” to redeem themselves, but not a lot of people, in Turkey, seem to be very optimistic…

EuroBasket 2005 probably was the lowest point for Turkish basketball. The team played so poorly that they only beat Bulgaria in overtime. Apart from that, Turkey lost to Lithuania, Croatia and Germany, without ever giving the impression of being able to go deeper in the tournament. The losing was not the worst part since there are good and bad periods in sport. But there is a huge difference between losing and not competing. And the Turkish team was at the wrong end of that difference. The team, especially the players, were criticized ferociously in the Turkish media when they returned to Istanbul. The locker room infighting between Mehmet Okur and Mirsad Türkcan was highly publicized and commented upon.

The wild card berth for the 2006 FIBA World Championship in Japan could be a time for redemption since there is no doubt that Turkey has tons of talent. That wild card has been taken by Turkey as a gift from the basketball gods. The team could win back the hearts of the public with a good effort. Yes, Turkey's first round group with Greece, Lithuania, Brazil, Australia and Qatar is very tough. Probably the toughest one of the competition. But the Turkish public wants to see effort before results. And the latter never comes without the former any how.

But it seems one year has not been enough to bury the hatchet or heal the wounds. After the 2005 disaster, players were reluctant to play for the National Team, especially the big guns playing in the NBA. At present time, Mehmet Okur and Hidayet Türkoğlu are national heroes in Turkey. Their presence in the NBA in itself is headline news every other day. So they might think that playing in the National Team and giving minimal effort could only damages this reputation. So instead of competing more, they’ve announced that they don’t want to play this summer. That created a public frenzy since playing for the National Team is still considered national duty and an honour. For fans, refusing to play for the nation is just unthinkable. Coach Tanjevic did not want to listen to what Okur or Türkoğlu said to journalists. In early June, during a press conference, he indicated he would call the two stars without taking care of their apparent wishes. Probably the only way to put enough pressure on them to make them change their mind…

Bogdan Tanjevic said of the players: “I don’t know if they will come or not. I hope they do.” If and when they will come is still a question mark. But this invitation was merely a hope that the two players will feel the heat and eventually have to play for the National Team. Turkey suffered through major chemistry problems in Serbia. And looking at the start of this Japan trip things on the chemistry front seem gloomier than ever. But who knows? The magic that surrounded the Twelve Giants, at home, in EuroBasket 2001, when Turkey grabbed a Silver medal, can eventually come back since talent is present all over the roster…

Tanjevic’s backup plan is not assuring either. After the disaster of last summer, the only change in the roster was the exclusion of talentuous but unpredictable Mirsad Türkcan. And without guys like Okur, Türkoğlu and Türkcan (and Erdoğan is rather unlikely to recover soon enough after his knee surgury) the replacements are all inexperienced at the World level. However, the prized 1986-87 generation is represented by five players, and Tanjevic may very well use this opportunity to further grow these talents for the 2010 FIBA World Championship in Turkey. But, in this case, the public, who seek redemption, might only see a victory over Qatar while the highly-anticipated Greece-Turkey game could end in a very one-sided affair.

Tanjevic opted to rule out Cüneyt Erden and Ömer Onan’s who had stellar seasons with their club team, Ülker Istanbul, in which they took Ülker to the national championship (with a 4-0 finals sweep of Efes Pilsen). Just like Hüseyin Beşok having a good season in Le Mans, in which he just won the French league, scoring 26 points in the Final game.

The Turkish public wants redemption. But it might be that the wild card gift from the basketball gods will only inflict more pain to the suffering. But who knows? The results will be very hard to come by, but the team can hardly give any less effort than last summer.
ACHIEVEMENTS IN FIBA COMPETITION
 Season   Competition   Placement 
2003 European Championship for Cadets 2nd place 
2004 European Championship for Men U18 2nd place 
2005 U18 European Championship Men 2nd place 
2005 U16 European Championship Men 1st place 
2006 U20 European Championship Men 2nd place 
2008 U16 European Championship Men 3rd place 
2009 U18 European Championship Men 3rd place 
2009 Borislav Stankovic Cup 2nd place 
2010 FIBA World Championship 2nd place 
2011 U18 European Championship Men 3rd place 
2012 U16 European Championship Men 1st place 
2013 U18 European Championship Men 1st place 
2014 U20 European Championship Men 1st place 
PARTICIPATION IN FIBA COMPETITION
 Season   Competition   Last Achieved Round 
2002 World Championship for Men Classification Round (9-12)
2002 European Championship for Junior Men Finals
2003 World Championship for Junior Men Finals
2003 European Championship for Men Second Leg
2004 European Championship for Men U20 Qualifying Round
2005 U20 European Championship Men Placings 11th and 12th
2005 EuroBasket Elimination Games
2006 FIBA World Championship Classifications
2006 U18 European Championship Men Game for 3rd and 4th place
2006 U16 European Championship Men Game for 7th and 8th place
2007 FIBA U19 World Championship for Men Classification (5-8)
2007 U20 European Championship Men 7th to 8th Place
2007 EuroBasket Qualifying Round
2007 U18 European Championship Men 7th to 8th Place
2007 U16 European Championship Men 3rd to 4th Place
2008 U20 European Championship Men Classification Game for 3rd to 4th Place
2008 U18 European Championship Men Classification Game for 9th to 10th Place
2009 U20 European Championship Men Classification Game for 5th to 6th Place
2009 EuroBasket 7th to 8th Place
2009 U16 European Championship Men Classification Game for 7th to 8th Place
2010 Youth Olympic Games for Men Finals
2010 U20 European Championship Men Classification Round
2010 U18 European Championship Men Classification Game for 9th to 10th Place
2011 U20 European Championship Men Classification Game for 5th to 6th Place
2011 EuroBasket Second Round
2011 U16 European Championship Men Classification Game for 7th to 8th Place
2012 U18 European Championship Men Classification Game for 9th to 10th Place
2013 U20 European Championship Men Classification Game for 5th to 6th Place
2013 EuroBasket First Round
2013 U16 European Championship Men Classification Game for 7th to 8th Place
2014 U18 European Championship Men First Round
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