By Bugra Uzar/ Buzar@eurohoops.net
With Omer Faruk Yurtseven absent from the upcoming Eurobasket and his side denying that they took this decision without informing the Turkish federation, coach Ergin Ataman gave his side of the story.
And when Ataman talks, things always get interesting.
“I will speak from my point of view, I was very sad and shocked that Omer Faruk Yurtseven did not attend the camp”, said Ataman in his meeting with the local press in Istanbul, insisting that he was surprised by the decision of the player.
“After we announced the squad, the news came and I could not believe it. In the World Cup qualifiers game against Great Britain, Omer Faruk was in the squad and played very well. He was very good on a personal level with everyone. Even I was a little surprised. He was considered a little introverted, but he was always chatting with us. So, I was shocked. I even talked to the assistants Hakan Demir and Mehmet Okur. They tried to reach him. What hurt me the most was that he didn’t answer them. He always left us in contact with his American agent. On the last day, he spoke with federation president Hidayet Turkoglu. I can’t imagine the American manager understanding our feelings. I see a very serious managerial influence here”.
Ataman simply believes that the presence of the Turkish national team would help Yurtseven: “It is a situation that I cannot understand at all. Because when you look at it, Doncic, Giannis, and Jokic are playing in this European Championship. All the teams were playing there with their best players, NBA players, this was an opportunity for Omer Faruk. He doesn’t play for the Miami Heat anyway. He plays very little. He could gain from this experience. He was a player providing something different for us as well. Sertac Sanli is an experienced big man, he has a shot from the outside and Alperen Sengun is also a very good player, but Omer Faruk was also important for us due to his athletic abilities. He was a player who could give us this and contribute to defensive hardness and rebounding. I have a hard time understanding why he made such a decision. The Turkish National Team is a very high-level team. When you look at it, Cedi Osman, Alperen Sengun, Furkan Korkmaz, Shane Larkin, Melih Mahmutoglu, Sertac Sanli are all top players in Europe and the NBA. You’re going to train alone, you shoot from the right, you shoot from the left, the shooting coach will come, it’s all image, nothing else. The real training is here, the prep games are important like the Greece-Spain match played yesterday. Giannis scored 31 points and got 10 rebounds in 21 minutes. He plays with pleasure, these are world stars”.
According to Ataman, while you can’t force anyone to play for the national team, there must be a reaction towards Keith Glass: “We cannot force anyone to join the national team. This national team should be special for everyone. Our brothers and friends in this country are shedding their lives and blood for the flag of this country. What we need to do is to represent this flag for the Turkish people for one, maybe one and a half months. I am also too tired. I won the EuroLeague back-to-back. After all, I’m taking a risk. Everyone here has expectations. I would expect my players to come here with such enthusiasm by taking these risks, but unfortunately, there was an American manager and his influence. Let me also say this here, I also talked to president Turkoglu about that. In such cases, I think that such managers should be prevented from doing business in Turkey. In other words, we, as the TBF, should give a license to the managers who will do business in Turkey, and managers who will not send a national team player to the team for some interests, should not make their bread here. Turkish teams cannot get players from these managers. We can prevent it with such sanctions. Omer Faruk is a young player, and I am not in favor of losing him. I think that in the future, he will realize this mistake and return to his friends again. The Turkish people are proud that these children play in the NBA. I know from my own son that he wakes up at night and watches the matches of Turkish players. Our press keeps those kids on the front pages all the time. Come here with your friends and make an effort to bring the national team of this country to the top. I think Omer Faruk made a mistake because of his youth. I hope that in the future he will return and learn from this mistake”.
And by returning, Ataman means also apologizing for skipping the Eurobasket: “I go in when I want, I go out whenever I want, there is no such thing. We’ll see if he comes and apologizes to the Turkish people, not to me, not to the TBF, but to the Turkish people because he made a mistake, he was supposed to be here. There is not any other issue if he wants to play again, but he has a debt to the Turkish people because of the way we set out for such a goal. We’re not just here to play basketball right now. We are here to bring Turkey to the top. If you are an important part of this group, you had to fulfill that responsibility. We can’t do anything to anyone. If he does not come and play, we have no sanction for him. The biggest sanction is the sanction in the consciousness of the Turkish people. Come out and apologize. There is nothing else for me. He is a young man who I love, but as I said, I think his manager should not be allowed to do business in Turkey anymore”.
Meanwhile, Berk Ugurlu, Egehan Arna, and Kartal Ozmizrak are the first cuts from the Turkish team roster, which now includes 16 players.