Turkish center Furkan Aldemir makes NBA debut
DHA PhotoTurkish center Furkan Aldemir, who joined the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers on Dec. 15, made his debut for his new team hours after signing a contract.
Aldemir logged 10 minutes in the Sixers’ 105-87 home loss to the Boston Celtics, scoring two points, dishing out an assist and grabbing two offensive rebounds.
“[In Turkey] I tried to follow rebounds offensively and defensively, and I’ll try to [do that] for this team,” he told reporters before the game. “I believe I can improve my other skills, especially on the offensive end, and I expect very good things.”
The Sixers are off until Dec. 19, and the three-day break will give Aldemir a chance to begin to situate himself in the city he will now call home.
“[Philadelphia’s] not so different from Turkey, just a little bit colder,” he said, laughing. “I like the city, and my wife likes the city. I hope [my cat] will like it too.”
One of the top young rebounders in Europe, the 23-year-old Aldemir arrived from Turkish Airlines Euroleague club Galatasaray after terminating his three-year contract. The Turkish team, plagued by financial issues, had failed to pay his wages in recent months.
The center reportedly signed a four-year, $12 million contract with Philadelphia.
Aldemir joined Galatasaray in 2011 and helped his team claim the Turkish Basketball League title in the 2012-2013 season.
He led the Euroleague Top 16 tour last year with 14.51 rebounds per 40 minutes and was third in blocks with a 3.08 average.
This season, he played in six Euroleague matches, averaging 7.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. He was leading the Turkish league in rebounds, with 11.1 rebounds per game.
Aldemir was selected by the Los Angeles Clippers in the 2012 NBA Draft. The Sixers acquired his rights in 2013 in a trade with the Houston Rockets.
He is the fifth Turkish player competing in the NBA this season, following Hidayet Türkoğlu, who plays for the LA Clippers, Ömer Aşık with the New Orleans Pelicans, Ersan İlyasova of the Milwaukee Bucks and Enes Kanter for the Utah Jazz.