By Stefan Djordjevic / firstname.lastname@example.org
Turk Telekom started off the Basketball Champions League playoffs with a win over SIG Strasbourg. Sam Dekker couldn’t help out the team due to an injury he suffered at practice by stepping on a teammate’s foot but he followed the game and was proud of the squad.
“It was a great win, starting off the Round of 16 in a good way. Being at home helped. We’re a very good team at home and feel really comfortable. Having the guys step up in my absence and carry the load. Guys have been stepping up the whole year. We’ve had Nick out, Tyler out, we’ve had Michael Eric go to CSKA. There were guys in and out of the lineup and we just had to step up. When you have the leadership in Kyle Wiltjer and Nick Johnson, the new additions in Marcus Foster and Johnny O’Bryant were great. Adding some talent helps,” Dekker said and noted that while he’ll miss the duel vs Fenerbahce, he should be ready for the game against AEK.
Taking a look back at the finish of the previous season when Turk Telekom fell to JDA Dijon early in the Final Eight, Dekker can’t deny the disappointment, however, he believes this time around it’s going to be different.
“Not being ready. We never had a consistent practice period together. We added Keifer Sykes the week before the game so we had to get used to that, and during that time, Kyle Wiltjer wasn’t with us because he had COVID. That’s two big players not in practice and Keifer also had a little nagging injury. Also not having Nick Johnson. We were just trying to jell and know each other. If we played today, I think it would be a different outcome but Dijon played a great game against us and advanced. I was really upset after the game. It was a chance for us to do something cool but, hopefully, in the next few weeks, we can get back there.”
Sam also shared his desire to acquire Turkish citizenship and a passport. He’s been working on it and although there’s no rush about it, he would like to play for the national team some time.
“I’m so interested. I’ve talked about it all year and trying to work it out with some people. I would love to get a Turkish passport and Turkish citizenship. The country’s been great to me and the league’s been great to me. I’ve gotten to know a lot of Turkish players here and the Federation, and I think they like me. I’m having fun and whatever happens, happens but I would never turn down the opportunity to be with the national team and represent Turkey. It also helps career-wise. I know Shane does it, and Scottie Wilbekin does it, some guys that take a lot of pride in doing it. So, it would be cool.”
Photo Credit: Basketball Champions League