Turkey’s NBA superstar Hida-yet “Hedo” Türkoğlu says he does not want to end his professional basketball career without playing in the Olympic Games.
Winning the silver medal in last year’s Worlds, the Turkish national basketball team will seek an Olympic berth in the upcoming European Basketball Championship to be hosted by Lithuania on Aug. 31-Sept. 18.
“Everybody will expect a first-class achievement, like last year’s. We want to take one of the top spots and earn a berth in the Olympics,” Hedo told the Anatolia news agency. He said playing at the Olympics will be one of the cornerstones in his career and “for this reason, I don’t want to quit playing basketball without achieving this and experiencing the Olympics.”
While noting that all eyes will be on the Turkish team as the world silver medalist at the European tournament, Hedo said he hopes they will go to Lithuania with the full A-team and no injuries. “What matters is how we prepare for the tournament. I hope we will not face any trouble during the training camps and head to Lithuania without a single injury,” he added.
Turkey’s EuroBasket squad includes veteran basketball players, such as Anadolu Efes point guard Kerem Tunçeri, Fenerbahçe Ülker shooting guard Ömer Onan and Anadolu Efes forward center Kerem Gönlüm. Hidayet believes that Turkey will manage to secure an Olympic berth with experienced regulars and coach Orhun Ene at the helm. Ene is the former assistant coach who replaced Montenegrin Bogdan Tanjevic following last year’s Worlds.
“Orhun Ene has been successful with both the national team and other clubs. He deserved that post. As a team, we were happy to have him as our coach. Our dialogue with him is very good,” Hedo said.
Turkey has begun its pre-tournament training in a town in southern Antalya. 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.
“We cannot wait to start training. We have been getting more experienced every year and everybody is aware of their responsibilities,” said the Orlando Magic star.
“As the Turkish national team, we always aim to win the top spots. Following the silver medal in the Worlds, there are further expectations. We believe we will succeed. We are in a good position as both players and the team. We impatiently wait for the training to start so that we can earn more achievements.”