Hersek Shines For Turkey On And Off Court

03 August 2008

Baris Hersek was projected from a very early age as a future star in Turkish basketball.

In his first European Championship, the U16 of 2004, he shinned with 16.3 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 2.0 apg and 1.7 bpg.

Two years later Turkey climbed to the semi-finals of the U18 championship and Hersek showed his wide set of skills with 33 points and nine rebounds in the 87-80 loss to Lithuania.

But when Turkey showed up to the U20 games last year Baris wasn't on the team.

It certainly wasn't because of his lack of skills.

The 204cm power forward is an athletic player with a lot of offensive tools. He can shoot from long range, put the ball on the floor and attack the rim or use his size to overcome smaller opponents.

Hersek is also a very good rebounder on both ends of the floor.

Hersek was banned from the team due to disciplinary problems, and earned what people wish to avoid - a bad reputation.

More and more we see in the last few years young prospects who already at an early age develop an attitude problem. Few of them are able to make the change and act as expected from a professional ball player.

One year later, in Riga 2008 Hersek is back on the Turkish team and with a totally different face. Now he belongs to that second group mentioned above.

That already means one issue was solved, but a closer look will show a new version of the talent.

"I'm very happy Baris is here," Coach Orhun Ene said.

"He's very important for this team, and also to the future of Turkish basketball, because he's a great talent."

But for Coach Ene it is more important to emphasize the big change Baris went through between last year and this.

"I see a different Baris now. His personality was of a kid before, and it caused some problems. Now he's a man and a good one. It says a lot.

"I know Baris from a very young age. I know his heart and the way he is inside. He's a nice kid who made a mistake, but he had paid for that mistake and now he's much better."

Hersek himself talks on the court mostly. In the two wins his team collected so far he showed a more mature game, and his 13 points and nine rebounds in the win over Israel showed his importance for the team.

As a player of powerhouse Efes Pilsen Hersek found himself on the bench of the team for almost the entire past two seasons.

The youth championships are his chance to play and show his what he can contribute to his team.

"I didn't play a lot of games the past two years, and this is a good chance for me to play and stay in shape," he shares with

"Playing here is very good and important for me. I still need to get some rust off me but every game I feel better."

The memories from the semi-finals two years ago are still in his mind. Back then Lithuania opened a big gap at the start. Hersek brought his team close towards the end with a great offensive display.

"I remember that when we finally came back to the game we were too tired already to complete the come back," he recalls.

"I learned from that game that we need to start well and be tough right from the start Never let any team get ahead of us with a big difference and stay focused the entire game."

Turkey will face Italy on day three in hope to complete a perfect preliminary round, and Hersek is ready for the challenge.

"We're getting in a form and playing better and better each game. It's going to be a very difficult and important game against Italy.

"We want to finish this round perfect so we'll have a good advantage in the qualifying round."

Coach Ene knows how important is Hersek for the success of his team, and believes it's only a matter of short time till we see the whole package performing again.

"The fact Baris hardly played for his team and missed the last summer is tough. It's very important he'll play during the season as well.

"Every day he's with the national team he's getting better. I believe by the end of the tournament we'll see exactly what his skills can deliever."

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