By Bugra Uzar / email@example.com
Just 14 days before the FIBA World Cup tips off in China, Eurohoops sat down with Turkey NT and Philadelphia 76ers star Furkan Korkmaz for an all-inclusive interview.
Turkey plays in Group E in the First Round, where they face the Czech Republic, Japan and of course Team USA, a match-up for which Korkmaz spoke in detail.
– You chose to stay in the Philadelphia 76ers. What do you feel? What are your expectations from the new season?
Of course, people have expectations as much as I do, I know that. It’s time for me to really play. Already in Philadelphia, Butler’s departure convinced me to stay a little longer. Or there were a few more teams we talked to during the transfer, but Philadelphia was a little more prominent. That’s why I’m staying.
– They gave you a two-year contract, which shows their confidence in you. How do you feel about that? A long-term contract …
– Philadelphia was a team that already knew me. If they called me after the season and told me that they wanted to see me on the team, I must have said that I had left good marks. So it was important that they wanted to see me on the team for me. We play almost semi-finals every year. I’ve been there for two years, and we’ve played semi-finals every year at our own conference. The important thing here is to keep that success and move it a little further.
In fact, a door was opened at the Eastern Conference with the departure of Kawhi Leonard. They eliminated you from the last ball last year. What do you think we’re likely to see in the NBA finals this year?
I think we can actually play every year. In the last three seasons, there is a core team, though from outgoing. Maybe JJ Redick’s leaving this year might change the balance, but I’m not too desperate. I think we can play the final. We lost a single ball last year. That’s part of basketball.
– You will represent your country with your national team at one of the highest points possible. What do you think about it and how does it feel to wear the national team uniform? From a young age, you always took part in the national team whenever you called.
– Every summer we come here with different excitement. Believe me, we talk about when the camp will start and when we will gather each time we come. Especially when the United States is becoming even more longing of Turkey. Because when you go, you can’t come for 7-8 months, you miss the people here. Similarly, you miss national feelings. Because playing on the club team is different. I played at the club here. Playing in the national team is a completely different feeling.
– Turkey goes to China with a team as experienced as young and accustomed to playing together. Do you think that’s your biggest advantage over there? Does the team have other advantages?
– Of course, it’s an advantage, but an advantage if we use it well. There’s a team that’s been playing together since infrastructure. The average age of this team is maybe 21-22-23 … Playing together in that infrastructure will provide us success. Maybe this summer, maybe two years, but it’il help.
– Turkey is in the same group as the US and they come with staff below their level. There are many shortcomings. What do you think of that match? The world’s eye will be on that game.
– Wherever you look, ultimately the US comes as the US. Three or five All-Star hasn’t arrived or it doesn’t matter much. After all, those who came are not too inferior to them. Of course there is a difference in comparison, but I say that what we do is more important than the competitors there. I say the same for all teams.
– Finally, is there a realistic target for Turkey? Of course, you will go game to game but can you expect a performance near the medal goal or there?
– I think it would be wrong for us to target. Of course, if we beat this game in our minds, there are some small points that we say we will reach this, but I think it is the healthiest for us to go to the match even though it is classic. Because even if we play badly, especially in the World Cup, we don’t have the luxury of winning a match. We have to go out every day and play really good basketball. We need to play the best basketball as well as the biggest challenge. Of course, this should not be limited to the first group. If we pass the first round, which I believe wholeheartedly, it makes more sense to set a target in the second group.