|23 August 2012|
|With Turkey being the only undefeated team, Özge Kavurmacioglu knows that her side has the potential to go all the way in Debrecen|
By Paul Nilsen
Turkey has still never won a medal at a women's youth tournament but for Özge Kavurmacioglu, finally making the podium at the U20 European Championship Women will only taste beautifully sweet if it means gold.
It's just the kind of winning mentality which will be music to the ears of everyone back home, right from Turkish Basketball Federation President Turgay Demirel to the increasing number of Turkish fans following the women's game.
And, it's easy to see why one of the most talented young players Turkey has for the future can speak so confidently. For the team currently sits proudly with six wins from six games and so far at least, everything has went according to plan.
"Currently we are the only team that is undefeated and we plan to keep producing at this level since I think there's a big possibility for us to win this Championship," claimed Kavurmacioglu.
"I believe that if we stay focused, we can and hopefully will make history.
"We consider ourselves as one of the frontrunners for the gold-medal."
Part of the reason for the current success of the team has been the contribution of the younger players and particularly backcourt duo Pelin Bilgic and Merve Aydin who joined having played at the recent U18 European Championship Women in Bucharest.
Kavurmacioglu was quick to praise their impact so far which has seen Aydin make smart decisions when she has been on the floor and Bilgic debut with a flawless 21-point shooting performance before falling ill.
She said: "Both of the young girls are doing well and I am very happy over the fact that they are a part of the team.
"Younger players give positivity and bring more energy for us."
Meanwhile it's proving to be a real family affair for Turkey with plenty of support and according to the player, this is also feeding into the feel-good factor.
"Both of my parents are in Debrecen together with some of my team-mates' family and friends," smiled Kavurmacioglu.
"Seeing your family in the stands makes you play harder and I appreciate and love my parents for being here."
Going For The First Medal
No doubt if Turkey does manage to make history and grab themselves a first ever medal then the party will continue long into Sunday night - although there's plenty of work to do until the players can truly think about such a moment.
Kavurmacioglu only has to reflect on arguably the most epic game of her career so far to know that anything can happen in the Quarter-Final of a youth Championship.
It was three years ago in Naples when Turkey was on the wrong end of a quadruple overtime classic against France in the last eight of the U16 European Championship Women.
"I will carry that game with me for a long time," she recalled.
"Even just thinking about it brings chills down my spine.
"We fought hard, but it wasn't enough - although it's still one of the best exciting games I've ever played in.
"That game is exactly what I want basketball to be all about, except for the losing part that is!"
Of course one big motivational factor for all of the Turkish players has been watching the senior National Team make it to the Quarter-Finals of their first ever Olympic Games in London recently.
"I definitly think that they did a good job," said Kavurmacioglu.
"I mean competing with the USA, Australia and all the other great basketball nations of the world is never easy."
However, even the lure of a potential appearance at the Rio Games in 2016 isn't enough to knock Kavurmacioglu too far from the current misson in Hungary.
"We don't really talk about it too much since we are focusing on our assignment and what we are trying to do.
"Although I think it's probably in all of our heads at one time or another to make it to the senior women's national team one day."
|Özge Kavurmacioglu is doing a great job under the basket, averaging a team-high 6.8 rebounds, but knows that she also has to develop an outside game to become a top player|
Learning From The Best Players
In order to realise that longer term aim, Kavurmacioglu will have to continue raising her game and reach new levels, including finding her best position.
"I am happy with the way that I am developing my game," she said.
"I know I have to be able to play the three and maybe even the two spot in the future in order to play in the higher leagues.
"I am aware of this and I will work on it."
It's certainly been an up and down couple of years for the teenager at club level. Having managed to find a brief tatse of EuroLeague Women court time two years ago, Kavurmacioglu found it was more difficult to make an impression last season
She admitted: "We had better players this past year but I'm certainly not complaining."
"Playing against players like Penny Taylor, Angel McCoughtry, Cappie Pondexter and also the best Turkish players in Nevrye Yilmaz, Birsel Vardarli and Esmeral Tuncluer every day gives you the opportunity to learn and improve your game.
"I get to study some of the best players in the world," added the forward.
Now Kavurmacioglu must impress new Fenerbahce head coach Roberto Iniguez and she is determined to do so.
"I will stay with Fenerbahce and I will try to take the chance to play more minutes," she insisted.
For now though, there's a Quarter-Final against Belarus to focus on as Turkey attempts to stretch the winning run to a super seven games and secure a place in the Semi-Finals.