The roster was announced at İstanbul’s Polat Renaissance Hotel. TBF President Turgay Demirel, Secretary-General Ali Özsoy, head coach Orhun Ene and the national team’s managers Harun Erdenay and Barbaros Akkaş were in attendance at the press conference. Anadolu efes, formerly known as Efes Pilsen, has the honor of being the team providing the largest number of players to the national squad. Cenk Akyol, Kerem Gönlüm, Kerem Tunçeri and Sinan Güler have been invited from Anadolu Efes. Among the remaining 14 players, five will join the national team from NBA teams.
Ömer Aşık of the Chicago Bulls, Semih Erden of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Ersan İlyasova of the Milwaukee Bucks, Hidayet Türkoğlu of the Orlando Magic and Enes Kanter of the Utah Jazz are all part of the squad. Other players named for the national team are Barış Ermiş and İzzet Türkyılmaz from Banvit, Emir Preldzic, Oğuz Savaş and Ömer Onan from Fenerbahçe Ülker, Sertaç Şanlı, Ender Arslan and Furkan Aldemir from Galatasaray and Doğuş Balbay from the University of Texas. Speaking at the press conference, TBF President Demirel said the national team aims to earn a berth for the London 2012 Olympics “by taking one of the top two places.” The third, fourth and fifth-place holders in Lithuania will have to play an elimination tour to win a ticket to the Olympics.
Turkey will encounter host Lithuania and European champion Spain as well as Great Britain and Poland in Group A of the preliminary round. The sixth team in Group A will be determined following an additional qualifying tournament slated for August. As tough competition awaits Turkey, coach Ene is assertive. “We will do our best to reach our target of participating in the Olympics,” he said.
The national team, also dubbed as the 12 Giant Men, will play in 10 pre-tournament warm-up matches. After gathering in Antalya on July 10, the team will head to Italy on July 16. Following a 15-day training camp, the 12 Giant Men will attend the Efes Pilsen World Cup in İzmir on Aug. 8. The team will later take part in the Super Cup in Germany and conclude pre-tournament training after participating in the Adidas Cup in İstanbul.
The Turkish national team has been earning remarkable results in international championships since the country hosted the European Basketball Championship in 2001, when the 12 Giant Men became the silver medalist. In the Worlds last summer, Turkey again came second after the US. Turkey has appeared twice in basketball competitions at the Olympics thus far, once in 1936 and again in 1952.