Serkan Inan caused quite a stir for Sweden in their U20 European Championship Division B games back in 2006 when he averaged more than 12 points per game and then got a chance to compete with the senior side.
Last summer, he competed with the senior team again and endured the disappointment of relegation from Division A.
The 21-year-old is expected to be in the squad when Sweden attempt to win promotion back to Europe's top division, when they will be taking on Slovakia, Georgia, Iceland and Luxembourg later this summer.
Inan spoke to Basketball World News on behalf of FIBA Europe.
FIBA Europe: Serkan, you have played with Sweden's youth teams and last summer competed with the senior team. Has playing for your country been the highlight of your career so far?
Serkan Inan: Yes, playing against the best players in Europe with the senior team has been really fun and these are the kind of games that motivate me to become at least as good as the basketball players I'm playing against. But playing with Fenerbahce and now Alpella in the Turkish league has been a great experience, too. As with the national team, I'm playing against top players in both the Euroleague and ULEB Cup all the time here in Turkey which is a lot of fun.
FIBA Europe: What was the experience like playing with the senior team last year?
Serkan Inan: It was actually my second year with the senior team and I think that I did improve my game a lot. It's always a lot of fun playing with the national team and I would love to be able to do so for many more years to come. Unfortunately, we didn't do so well last year and it's a big disappointment for us that we dropped down to Division B, but I am sure that my teammates and I are going to work hard to try to make it back to Division A again.
FIBA Europe: There are so many good players and teams all over Europe, now. What can we expect of Sweden in the future?
Serkan Inan: I think that the new generation of players in Sweden is really interesting. If they just keep on working hard on their games, I'm sure these young players are going to make Sweden a big basketball nation. I think that we will be able to compete against the biggest basketball nations within the next five years or so since we already showed everyone that Sweden actually can beat great basketball-nations like Lithuania last summer. It also feels like the interest in basketball is growing with every day that passes in Sweden, both in the Swedish league and in the national team.
FIBA Europe: After being drawn against Slovakia, Georgia, Ireland and Luxembourg in Division B, can Sweden win promotion to Division A and what do you know about your opponents?
Serkan Inan: Yes, of course. We also had big goals last year and really felt like we could go far in the qualification round to get that last spot for the EuroBasket, one more so after all the good results we had during the preparation games. I think that Slovakia and Georgia will be the toughest opponents since these teams are two basketball nations and have good players in top European leagues and even in the NBA. It's going to be really tough and we really need to work hard this summer to get this team back in Division A, and to fulfill our goals and I really believe that we will.
FIBA Europe: Can you give us some more insight as to what has been going on with you at club level?
Serkan Inan: This season I've been playing for Alpella in the Turkish league. I am a player of Fenerbahce/Ülker but I'm on loan to Alpella. During these three last seasons in Turkey, working for Fenerbahce has been the experience of my life so far with no doubt. I feel like I've been taking my game to another level and I'm very thankful to this club for making it possible to work on my game whenever I want to and that's a big reason for my improvement. Of course I also want to thank every coach that I've been working with so far as I feel like every coach has bee
|Kenny Grant was one of the most productive members of the Sweden teams last year|
n very important in different ways for me becoming the player that I am today and, hopefully, will be in the future.
FIBA Europe: What was the best advice that a coach ever gave you?
Serkan Inan: There has been so much great advice that I really can't remember one that's more special than the other right now. One bit of advice I'm thinking about a lot, though, is that as long as you practice as much as everyone else and only within your practice-schedule with the team, you're going to be an average player. But if you take a lot of your time to practice extra on your game, you're going to be an extra-player, someone special.
FIBA Europe: Looking back at 2003 when Sweden hosted and played in the EuroBasket, can you remember that tournament? And did it have an influence on you in terms of wanting to play the game of basketball?
Serkan Inan: Yes, I do remember that tournament and went to watch most of the games that were around Stockholm. Of course it did have a big influence on me, but also, I think, on the whole nation. The interest in basketball just got bigger and people who never watched the game before started to go to these games. I mean, I've always loved the game of basketball and always thought that this is what I want to do. But for the tournament to come to your own country was just something special and I'm really happy for those players who got the chance to play in the EuroBasket on their home court. That's just something I really wish I could do sometime during my career.
FIBA Europe: Serkan, who is the Swedish player that you looked up to as a youth, and what player internationally (in any league) has been your favorite?
Serkan Inan: The Swedish players would probably be players like Olouma Nnamaka, Jonas Larsson, Mathias Sahlström and Fredrik Jönzen. Don't need to be players in my position, their accomplishments are more important. Internationally, it's Dejan Bodiroga and Ibrahim Kutluay. I've been watching these players a lot and tried to learn a lot of stuff from these players to improve my game. Playing and practicing with Ibrahim Kutluay later on at Fenerbahce was just really fun.