Turkey not considering leaving EuroBasket, Ataman demands security

2022-09-05T14:24:37+00:00 2022-09-05T14:34:15+00:00.

Giannis Askounis

05/Sep/22 14:24


The troubling situation for the Turkey national team and head coach Ergin Ataman in Tbilisi

By Semih Tuna/ Stuna@eurohoops.net

Commenting on the double-overtime loss to Georgia and locker room incidents, Turkey senior national team head coach Ergin Ataman was critical of FIBA and the emerging situation in Tbilisi, the hosting city of 2022 EuroBasket Group A of the preliminary round.

“First of all, we lost to our individual mistakes,” he initially focused on yesterday’s Gameday 3 contest, “Before the overtime, we could not hit the open shots, Alperen Sengun missed important free throws. He made one out of four. On the other hand, [Thad] McFadden made some crucial shots, from a very long distance. I’m proud of the fight the boys gave. This is a young team, this is an intense atmosphere. Of course, there were some ridiculous calls in the end and Georgia won.”

Furkan Korkmaz of the Philadelphia 76ers was ejected from the game. According to Turkish officials, he was attacked in the locker rooms. Another unresolved perspective of the protests is the loss of 22 seconds during the brawl leading to the ejection.

“Losing 22 seconds is a scandal,” noted Ataman to reporters during practice Monday, “The last possession was ours so if we had 24 seconds to play, that might have changed the end result. We made our objection and protest. This is a clear mistake of rule. We objected even at that time in the game but they rejected us and distanced us from the table. This event affected the end result. We demanded the game to be replayed, or at least that last 4:30 minutes. We expect this to be the outcome. But FIBA is an outdated organization, we cannot find any solution to the problems.”

“Actually, I don’t know,” Ataman answered a question about getting the footage from the security camera, as demanded in the immediate aftermath, “We asked for everything, from FIBA and Georgian police about the camera and what happened on to the locker room. From what I know, we don’t have anything so far. We are analyzing everything. We are waiting.”

However, his team actually withdrawing its participation from EuroBasket is not being considered. “No, we are not thinking about leaving the tournament. Of course, if we continue like this, then we can’t play basketball,” explained Ataman, “We have talked with other teams, and everyone complains about the situation. Everybody is complaining. I talked with the Montenegro organization, I talked with Sergio Scariolo. Everybody is complaining.”

“If we don’t have the security, we will think about it with our federation and government. Also, today our government called me and the president of the Federation, [Hedo] Turkoglu. Everybody is included now, our embassy as well,” he added, “We need security for our players here. The police can’t come to the locker room to attack our players and staff. On basketball, if we deserve it, we will go to Berlin and play. We are here to play basketball. That’s all.”

Reversing back to the locker room and Korkmaz, Ataman mentioned his player is fine noting that a staff member attempting to protect the player was hurt. “Korkmaz got in a fight, but he is OK. But the staff member, he tried to protect him and went down,” he said.

“We did not know about that during the game,” he clarified on being informed of the incident, “In the last ten seconds, the foul committed by Cedi [Osman] was a soft foul, it was not a flagrant foul. I was disqualified and went to the coach’s room, I heard the voices. The Georgian police were brutally forcing our players to the dressing room, pushing us as well as vice-president Huseyin Besok. Outside the court, there was no police escort and no protection on our way to the hotel. Our players cannot feed well in the hotel, the food is not suitable for players’ nutrition. We lost the game pretty miraculously. It’s been a long time since I did not work at FIBA. I’m very surprised with the referee decisions and other bad decisions organisational-wise.”

Down to 2-1, Turkey will return to action facing Belgium and Spain, Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.

“The psychology of my players is not good now, especially Korkmaz,” mentioned Ataman and wondered, “Just think about what if this happened in the NBA.”

Ranking first through fourth in the final standings would punch in a ticket to the knockout stage of the 2022 EuroBasket to be held in Berlin.