Turkish women hope for medal at EuroBasket

Turkish women hope for medal at EuroBasket

Turkish women hope for medal at EuroBasket

DHA Photo

The Turkish national women’s basketball team is hoping for a medal, gold if possible, at the 2015 European Championships in Hungary. Two games this weekend will be crucial for whether the team can take the first step and advance from its group.

Having beaten Poland in its opening game on June 11, Turkey takes on Belarus on June 13 and Greece on June 14 in Group B.

Turkey overcame a seven-point half-time deficit and the absence of superstar Nevriye Yılmaz to defeat Poland 57-54 in Oradea. Yılmaz, who reneged on her original decision to retire from international team in order to take part in this tournament, missed the match against Poland due to illness, but is expected to be back on the court against Belarus.

A semifinal finish in last year’s FIBA World Championship for Women in front of their home fans sealed Turkish women’s powerhouse status in European basketball.

Coach Ekrem Memnun is well aware of the expectations surrounding his team but is heeding a pragmatic approach that has served him well during a successful two-decade coaching career.

“The success of Turkey in recent years creates a lot of expectations,” Memnun told the competition’s official website.

“We don’t care about external pressure because we put pressure on ourselves. I like the concentration levels of our players. They are proud to represent their country,” he added.

Memnun enjoyed resounding success at Galatasaray Odeabank after taking the reins in 2012. In 2014, he guided the team to EuroLeague Women glory and a Turkish League title.

But he is till humble about his current post as coach of the Turkish national team.

“I don’t know if I am a good national team coach,” he said. “It’s a dream to represent your country and I know it is important. But it is a different approach to coaching at club level, where players are under contract and money pressure.

“This is different. They are now representing their countries and we don’t have to worry about some of those other distractions. It is a new challenge, and creates new stress, but I’m enjoying it,” he added.

Having coached for the bulk of his career in the men’s game, Memnun has become reacquainted in recent years in coaching women. While the fundamentals of basketball don’t change, management does, he said.

“Women players are more emotional and I have to be more of a manager in the women’s game. But my coaching philosophy and tactics are the same,” he added.

Downplaying the hype, Memnun insists his team is focused on the current matches in Group B and any dreams of winning the tournament are “far too early.”