Interview With Cem Akdag

27 April 2007

Turkey are an emerging force in Women's Basketball following the success of the last EuroBasket Women, which was held in the country in 2005.

Istanbul-based club Fenerbahce were within seconds of reaching this year's EuroLeague Women Final Four, and with players like Nevriye Yilmaz at their disposal, it would appear that the Turkish side could go one better next year.

This year's EuroBasket Women takes place in Italy in September and Turkey Women's Senior and U20 coach Cem Akdag is hoping for a top-five finish.

Akdag discussed his dual role and other issues with PA Sport's Alex Brooker on behalf of FIBA Europe.

FIBA Europe: Turkey finished eighth in the last EuroBasket in 2005, is the aim now to establish yourself as one of the top four or five teams in the tournament?

Akdag: Yes, definitely, I am thinking that we will fight for the first five.

Nevriye Yilmaz (Turkey)
Nevriye Yilmaz
FIBA Europe: There are many fine players in the Turkey team, such as Nevriye Yilmaz and Esmeral Tuncluer. How much do the team's chances of success rest on their shoulders?

Akdag: It is unfair to say that they are our best players, but more that they are our experienced players. We have some very talented players within the squad.

FIBA Europe: You are coach of the U20 team as well, would you have any hesitations in promoting players from that squad into the senior squad for the EuroBasket?

Akdag: No, not at all. If we have any absent players in the senior team, we will look to the U20 team to fill those positions.

FIBA Europe: You have a busy schedule ahead of you with the U20 European Championship Women taking place in Bulgaria in July and then the EuroBasket in September. Do you find it difficult combining the roles?

Akdag: I do not find it too difficult. Three years ago I really wanted to work with the U20 team because of the EuroBasket in Turkey in 2005. However, I did not get the chance to work with them. This year I have that chance. In the winter I am not doing much because I am not working with the clubs so I am looking forward to working all summer.

Melike Bakircioglu (Turkey)
Melike Bakircioglu
FIBA Europe: In your role as U20 coach and senior coach, it must be an advantage to work with the younger players and pick out who can make the senior team. Is this one of the advantages of doing both jobs?

Akdag: It is good that I can work with the players in the U20 team and then help them get into the senior team. For example, the U20 team have a really good player called Melike Bakircioglu. She plays for Fenerbahce and has also played in the EuroLeague with them. I will be able to see her first with the U20 team and then see if she can make the senior team.

FIBA Europe: Women's basketball in Turkey has really taken off following the success of the EuroBasket in 2005, do you believe that it will continue to increase in popularity in the coming years?

Akdag: I hope there will be more people playing basketball over the coming years. I think it will be better. I certainly do not think Turkish women's basketball will go down anymore because the popularity is increasing every day.

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