By Antonis Stroggylakis/ email@example.com
Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdogan presented Anadolu Efes star guard and new player of the national team Shane Larkin with the jersey of the “12 Giant Men” during the ceremony for the opening of the Burhan Felek Athletics Stadium in Istanbul.
Per information by the Turkish Basketball Federation, Erdogan and Larkin had a chat and then the Turkish president gave Larkin the jersey as a gift.
Federation president Hedo Turkoglu and Efes coach Ergin Ataman also attended the ceremony, as well as Turkish Youth and Sports minister Muharrem Kasapoglu.
On February 1st, Larkin announced that he officially received Turkish citizenship to join the country’s national team. The player and the Turkish Federation have been in talks for months before reaching an agreement.
With Larkin on board, Turkey will compete for a spot in the 2020 Olympic Games in the Qualifying Tournament held in Victoria, Canada from June 23 to 28. They will face the Czech Republic and Uruguay in Group B the first round, while Greece, China, and Canada participate in Group A.
Larkin is widely considered to be the frontrunner in the race for the 2019-2020 EuroLeague MVP. He averages a competition-high 22.0 points plus 4.0 assists and 3.2 rebounds while Efes is the standings leader at 21-3. The Turkish team is the only team to have already advanced to the playoffs.
In the season so far, Larkin has set a couple of historic marks. He became the player with the most points scored in a single game when he dropped 49 in a win over Alba Berlin back in November, while last month, he won the weekly MVP four times in a row. No other player had won the award for more than two straight rounds.
Photo: Turkish Basketball Federation (TBF)