|06 July 2011|
|The time has come for the no.3 of this year's NBA draft, Ene Kanter, to play with the big boys. He's represented Turkey at youth level and was the U18 European Championship MVP in 2009|
The EuroBasket Women may be over but the applause being directed at silver-medal winners Turkey sure isn't.
At Tuesday's Turkish Basketball Federation press conference to announce the preliminary squad for the EuroBasket in Lithuania, the attention deservedly fell on coach Ceyhun Yildizoglu and his magnificent squad that made history in Poland.
Never before had a Turkish women's team reached the Semi-Finals of a EuroBasket Women, so to make it all the way to the title game remains a cause for huge celebrations from Izmir, to Istanbul, to Ankara and everywhere else in the country that has a growing appetite for the game.
The focus is gradually shifting to the men's team, though.
Turkey will be attempting to follow up a magical year when they led a parade of European teams into the Quarter-Finals and clinched a silver medal as hosts of the 2010 FIBA World Championship.
There were so many European teams running up and down the floor in Istanbul in the knockout round, in fact, that the event could easily have been misidentified as a European Championship.
Two significant names that were not in that Turkish group last summer but have a chance of playing for the country in Lithuania, Emir Preldzic and Enes Kanter, have been named in the 18-strong preliminary squad for the EuroBasket.
The Bosnia and Herzegovina-born Preldzic, who represented Slovenia at the U20 European Championships in 2006 and 2007, is on the books of Fenerbahce.
Turkish Basketball Federation president Turgay Demirel on Tuesday confirmed that FIBA have given their permission for Preldzic to play for Turkey, so the 23-year-old forward is, indeed, in the squad.
Kanter, one of the bright hopes of Turkish basketball, was the third pick in last month's NBA Draft by the Utah Jazz.
Demirel spoke about Kanter on Saturday in Lodz before watching Turkey upset France in the EuroBasket Women Semi-Finals.
"Enes will also be with us," Demirel said.
"He has been a good player for our junior program, for our junior national team he played very well.
"I think in the EuroBasket he will help the team."
Orhun Ene, who has replaced Bogdan Tanjevic as the national team coach, will have one of the most talented rosters at his disposal and that includes NBA players.
Demirel was also asked about the effect of the NBA lockout on the presence of Turkish players at the EuroBasket and he answered: "We haven't had any problems before the lockout and I don't think that we will have problems now during the lockout."
"We talked to our players and the ones who are healthy all want to be in the team.
"Only Mehmet Okur can't because of an injury problem, but that doesn't have anything to do with the lockout.
"Semih Erden has had some injuries and had some operations so he is in a recovery process right now and if he is ready, then he will rejoin the team.
"So all of our (Turkish NBA) players will be on the roster except Okur."
Turkey will play in Group A of the EuroBasket against Spain, Lithuania, Great Britain, Poland and one of the two sides (Portugal, Hungary or Finland) that makes the 24-team Championship after competing in the Additional Qualifying Round.
Turkey preliminary squad: Baris Ermis, Izzet Turkyilmaz, Cenk Akyol, Ender Arslan, Kerem Gonlum, Kerem Tunceri, Sinan Guler, Emir Preldzic, Oguz Savas, Omer Onan, Sertac Sanli, Furkan Aldemir, Omer Asik, Semih Erden, Ersan Ilyasova, Hedo Turkoglu, Dogus Balbay and Enes Kanter.