EUROBASKET WOMEN 2011
|The reluctant star Birsel Vardarli led her team in assists and steals ahead of Turkey's historic first EuroBasket Women Final|
By Paul Nilsen
Brisel Vardarli rarely gets the attention she deserves but for now at least, the Turkish playmaker is more than happy for her skills to do all the talking.
Playing at her fourth EuroBasket Women tournament, the 26-year-old floor general is taking care of business once again by showcasing her full range of passing skills and tenacious defence - elements which have helped her team further their Olympic dream and guarantee a first ever gold or silver medal.
While those in her homeland fully appreciate the extent to which she makes her team tick, outside of Turkey it would be hard to find an elite European player who produces so much and yet consistently fails to receive the appropriate level of recognition.
Not that Vardarli is overly concerned by the situation. She is merely intent on helping Turkey enjoy the most exciting period in their history which not only includes the EuroBasket Women 2011 Final against Russia, but also hosting the 2014 FIBA World Championship Women and a potential appearance in London next year.
"I am aware of the situation of course but until the tournament is finished, I am not bothered about anybody talking about me in any kind of way.
"The time for talking is always when a tournament has finished. Anyway, it isn't about me, it's only about the team and what we do together to help each other and be successful.
"That is always the best way to be recognised - to play hard, play well and to win basketball games.
"We are progressing well and this generation is proving to be the most effective in the history of Women's basketball in Turkey. It's a special time.
"We are also always watching the next generation too and our youth teams are now very important to us if we want to play in major tournaments every year in the future."
|Vardarli has had a much more discreet role at Euroleague Women powerhouse Fenerbahce. The success of the national team could help homegrown talent gain more protagism in their domestic league|
Certainly those young players have a real idol to look up to. While all the talk has been of her miracle one-handed shot from downtown against France, perhaps the real play of the semi-final was seconds later when she showed her fearless streak as she penetrated to the hoop and finished beautifully high off the glass.
One of the most consistent players at Final Round and always somewhere near the top of the assists category whenever she pulls on a Turkey vest, Vardarli is a smart player.
She is also smart enough to recognise a potential shift in the dynamics of EuroBasket Women which has seen the teams who played to qualify last summer making a sizeable splash this year.
"Everyone has shown they can beat each other this summer and it just wasn't really like that two years ago at the last EuroBasket Women tournament.
"Teams who went through the Qualifying Round last summer have shown a great level of performance and have showed they can go far and to the final stages and push hard.
"I think this has been a really important step."
Stepping out of the shadows is also something the Turkish players must continue to do when they fly home since the Turkish league has attracted an influx of stellar names during the last couple of summers.
The point guard was quick to point out how important it is for the home-grown players to take advantage of the situation rather than retreat into their shells.
"For the Turkish players it is great to play with better players each year and of course when we all have court time we have to prove we can also play at a high level and make big contributions.
"The Turkish league is now at a very good level and I think the increase in standards will continue to help the National Team also."