|10 September 2011|
Renowned sports journalist Gökhan Türe from Türkey writes for the daily newspaper Habertürk and has followed closely every EuroBasket in the last two decades.
It was nearly two decades ago when I first watched a EuroBasket game in Sporthalle, Berlin, in the summer of 1993.
The Turkish team was playing in their first European Championship after a 12-year absence.
The target was to reach the Quarter-Finals which was not going to be easy with a limited roster. We lost the first game to France 69-55 and then beat Bulgaria 78-70.
The third and last game of the Preliminary Round was against Croatia, a team packed with stars like Velimir Perasovic, Zan Tabak, Stojan Vrankovic, Arijan Komazec, Dino Radja and Vladan Alanovic.
Our main weapons on the team were the guards Orhun Ene and Harun Erdenay.
It was like a nightmare when Croatia held a 30 point advantage at halftime already.
I was praying in the second half when it went up to 40 points: "God, please help us to lose by around 20"...The result was 113-63 for Croatia!
We went on to play in the second round, but won only against Belgium, lost to hosts Germany in the last group game and were eliminated.
However, this was going to be the first of 10 straight EuroBasket appearances for the Turkish team in the future, along with the huge progress which was achieved year by year.
|Hidayet Türkoglu is back at a EuroBasket for the seventh straight time to represent Turkey|
It all started with Efes Pilsen, who were recently re-named Anadolu Efes.
Efes Pilsen's progress in the European cups in the 90's, influenced the national team in a positive way and the right construction of basketball under the leadership of Turgay Demirel started to pay back by 1999, when the EuroBasket was played in France.
The Turkish team arrived there with many young talents such as Hidayet Türkoğlu, Kerem Tunçeri, Mehmet Okur, Mirsad Türkcan and İbrahim Kutluay.
They lost to France in a dramatic way in the Quarter-Finals but earned the respect of the European basketball community on this occasion in Paris.
In recent years, things have changed so dramatically, that the Turkish team came to Lithuania as the World Championship runners-ups and one of the tournament favourites.
The most interesting thing to this is that there are some familiar faces, not only on the roster but also in the technical staff.
The playmaker of Turkey at EuroBasket 1993, Orhun Ene, is now the head coach and the manager of the team is his former teammate in the national jersey, Harun Erdenay.
And there are the most experienced Turkish players, Hidayet Türkoğlu and Kerem Tunçeri from the 1999 roster.
Did you know that Ene was the captain of the Turkish team, when he was playing alongside Hedo (Hidayet Türkoğlu), who is just now playing in his seventh straight EuroBasket and Keko (Kerem Tunçeri) who is playing his sixth (missed just 2007 in Spain)?
The three of them were winning the silver medal at EuroBasket 2001 in Istanbul together and now they are unified once again in different positions but all with the same target: reaching the podium of EuroBasket 2011 in Lithuania.