BASKETBALL IN EUROPE
|Galatasaray Liv Hospital Head Coach Ergin Ataman has been handed the reins of the Turkish national team|
Turkey entered a new era at the weekend by handing the reins of their senior national team, nicknamed the '12 Giant Men', to the head coach of powerhouse Galatasaray Liv Hospital, Ergin Ataman.
Ataman has penned a three-year deal with the Turkish Basketball Federation (TBF) that runs until the 2016 Rio Olympics, with the first big challenge of his tenure coming up in the summer, in the shape of the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain.
The 48-year-old Turkish tactician had been linked with the role on numerous occasions in the last years and emerged immediately as one of the frontrunners to succeed Bogdan Tanjevic when the latter's almost decade-long reign at the helm of the national team concluded.
Tanjevic and the TBF had decided to call time on their long collaboration in September, following a crashing exit for Turkey from the First Round of EuroBasket 2013.
"I am honoured to accept the offer of TBF to be the head coach of the senior national team," Ataman said during his official presentation.
"I am going to give everything I have for the success of Turkish basketball.
"My goal is to win [a medal] in each one of the major international competitions in the next three years: the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup, EuroBasket 2015 and the 2016 Olympics."
If Ataman is to deliver on this ambitious goal the national team will need to put behind them some markedly underwhelming results during the last years, following on from facing USA in the big final of the 2010 World Championship at home.
The TBF clearly believe that Ataman is the man who can turn around this ship and steer them to heights more in line with their undoubted huge potential.
"Ergin Ataman is one of the most successful coaches in Europe, and I believe that for Turkish basketball this will mark the beginning of a new era of success," TBF president Turgay Demirel said.
"In our 2012-2016 strategic plan we had identified winning medals at premier international tournaments as an essential component of basketball success.
"In appointing Ergin Ataman as head coach of the national team, we have taken an important step in our quest to return to the podium in Spain."
Ataman has won the last two Turkish BEKO TBL league titles, the first with Besiktas Milangaz and then last year with Galatasaray, both times in spectacular fashion.
|Ergin Ataman is a well recognised face throughout Europe|
In 2012, the TBL crown was part of a historical treble for Besiktas which also included the Domestic Cup trophy and the EuroChallenge title, in what was only the second European success by any Turkish club (after Efes Pilsen's 1995 Korac Cup title).
Galatasaray meanwhile conquered the TBL last year after completing a five-month long unbeaten finish to the season.
Ataman won his first TBL title in 2009, while at the helm of Efes Pilsen (now Anadolu Efes) and had steered Italian juggernauts Montepaschi Siena to the 2002 Saporta Cup title.
The new Turkish national team head coach and Galatasaray are currently immersed in battle in both the Euroleague Top 16 and the TBL regular season.
The Istanbul team currently sits fourth in the domestic league standings with a 15-7 record and are also in fourth spot in Euroleague Group E, with a 5-6 record.
Turkey were drawn in Group C in the FIBA Basketball World Cup and will go up against New Zealand, Finland, Ukraine, the Dominican Republic and the United States, in a replay of the 2010 gold-medal clash.