Ataman: “Perhaps we will be open to adding a naturalized player from NBA”

2024-02-20T13:47:14+00:00 2024-02-20T18:15:12+00:00.

Nikola Miloradovic

20/Feb/24 13:47

Turkish national team coach Ergin Ataman addressed the situation concerning NBA players’ absence during FIBA windows and discussed the potential inclusion of a naturalized player for Turkey

By Eurohoops team/

After losing to Olympiacos in the Greek Cup final, Panathinaikos coach Ergin Ataman turned to his obligations with the Turkish national team in the upcoming 2025 Eurobasket Qualifying window.

Turkey will meet Italy (22/02) and Iceland (25/02), and talking to the press after gathering the team, Ataman spoke about NBA players not being able to participate with the national team this time.

In football and volleyball, we see that players either play in Turkey or in Europe. But in basketball, it’s not the same. I believe we are one of the countries with the most players in the NBA. This is often a disadvantage for us. Our NBA players sometimes request exemptions for the preparation period. Frankly, this situation creates difficulties for us. Unlike in football and volleyball, you cannot be with the players continuously. We can only see these players during the summer months,” Ataman said.

Two-time EuroLeague champion believes Turkey can have great success in the upcoming Eurobasket when NBA players arrive.

As a national team representing a country that invests so much in basketball, I believe that we will advance from the group and qualify for the 2025 European Championship. I also think that we will achieve successful results there. When we add our NBA players to the current squad, we have no doubt that we will have a successful tournament. The taste of the last European Championship lingered as we finished second in the group with a last-second basket against Spain. We lost to France in the quarterfinals. If you remember, in that tournament, France and Spain played in the final. Therefore, we know that our team is strong. We have the strength, but we need to utilize it.

Tarik Biberovic from Fenerbahce joined the National team and will play for Turkey as a naturalized player in the upcoming matches. Ataman hopes that could change soon, so the team can be strengthened further with the addition of another naturalized player, possibly from the NBA.

I hope that we can use Tarık Biberovic as a Turkish player, not as a naturalized one, similar to the example of Ercan Osmani. I consider them to be similar examples. After our other players join the team seamlessly, perhaps we will be open to adding a naturalized player who can raise the bar further, either from Europe or the NBA. This is also part of our plans,” Ergin Ataman concluded.