|08 November 2013|
BASKETBALL IN EUROPE
|Sinan Güler celebrates his 30th birthday on 8 November|
By Dimitris Kontos
Friday 8 November, the day of his 30th birthday, is just another day in the office for Turkish international Sinan Güler.
The Galatasaray Liv Hospital shooting guard will have to throw a makeshift party in a hotel room or during the flight back home, as his team are taking on Polish champions Zielona Gora in Game Day 4 of the Turkish Airlines Euroleague on Friday night.
It does not seem to bother him in the least, because this is the life he knows.
"I am 30 years old right now and this is my fifth year playing something like 11 and a half months a season," Güler told fibaeurope.com.
"Of course it's tough, physically most of all, and I will play for as long as I enjoy the game and for as long as my body allows me to play the game.
"Right now, my goal is just to play the basketball that I want to play in a fun and exciting way on the court, for as long as I am given the chance both for club and the national team.
The Istanbul-born guard is the son of Necati Güler, a former player, Turkish Olympic Committee and Turkish Basketball Federation (TBF) member, and the younger brother of former Besiktas and Turk Telekom Ankara point guard Muratcan Güler.
"The joy of the game creates the most motivation for me," the Galatasaray veteran said.
"Of course reaching the targets or some financial security is also important.
"But I am a person who grew up on the court, I was born on the court basically.
"That's why I get so much joy playing, sometimes even if we lose, if something good happened for us as a team in that game, I enjoy that moment, a lot.
"I think that whether I am playing or not in the future I will still be working for that, to create the joy of basketball."
TURKEY'S ELUSIVE CONSISTENCY
Güler has enjoyed plenty of success on the domestic front, winning the Turkish TBL and cup titles with Anadolu Efes, where he spent the last five years before joining reigning champions Galatasaray in the summer.
Yet success in the Euroleague so far eludes both Galatasaray and Efes as well as Fenerbahce, the powerhouses of Turkish basketball.
"I think the main difference [between the TBL and Euroleague] is the intensity of the games," Güler offers.
"It is so much higher in the Euroleague, where especially on the road you have to be at your best for 40 minutes.
"With the quality of the team that we have, in the Turkish league we can turn a game around in two-three minutes."
In their latest Euroleague outing at Unicaja Malaga, Galatasaray led 41-40 at the interval but inexplicably went missing in action in the second half, and lost 84-57.
"For example [in Malaga], we played a great first half but for some reason it just didn't click in the second half," Güler said.
"When that happens in the Euroleague, the opponent is just going to kill you."
The top Turkish clubs seem to have had an abundance of talent at their disposal for a long time, so what is missing in order to reach that level of 40-minute intensity that the experienced shooting guard demands?
"To be honest, the main thing is consistency," Güler said.
"I don't think I have seen a consistent team in Turkey, with the same coach, the same players season after season.
"I think that is one of the biggest weaknesses that we have.
"We always have a chance in Turkey, because we have a good financial capacity, but that consistency is a requirement."
A NIGHTMARE EUROBASKET
|Sinan Güler described Turkey's early exit at this year's EuroBasket as a nightmare |
The national team could have provided an outlet of success at international level for Güler, who became a senior international during Turkey's qualification campaign for EuroBasket 2009.
However, with the glaring exception of the fantastic silver medal success at the home World Championship in 2010, Turkey have turned into EuroBasket's underachievers.
The latest disappointment came last September in Slovenia, when the national team failed to advance to the Second Round of EuroBasket 2013.
When he thinks about that, Güler's expression changes, he starts a sentence, then stops, then shakes his head.
"I think about this year as a nightmare, to be honest," he says finally, in an effort to encapsulate his thoughts.
"Nothing, nothing worked for us.
"If there is a lesson to be taken it's about consistency, again.
"Because we had pretty much a similar team to the one we had in 2010, but we did not play the consistent basketball we used to play.
"Firstly on the defensive end we couldn't get the stops that we wanted, which used to create energy for us.
"And secondly we could not capitalise on our offensive skills.
"We were, somehow, confused on the court."
STARDUST DOES NOT LEAVE DEBRIS
|Developing young players as well as accommodating marquee players such as Linas Kleiza is something currently being addressed within Turkish basketball says Güler|
This financial might of the top Turkish clubs has not produced the desired results in the Euroleague and, if anything, it definitely has not helped the national team deliver according to expectations after the 2010 World Championship.
The veteran guard, who has been brought up inside the game and played all his career for top clubs, thinks there are ways for the influx of star foreign players not to hamper the development of home-grown talent.
"I think it's 50-50, it's both a challenge and a problem for young players," Güler asserted.
"It's hard to get into that system, to get into that rotation.
"In my case, I was lucky because I came after getting my education in the United States and I got both into the national team and a club [Darüşşafaka Spor Kulübü and then Besiktas] and my coaches, especially [Ergin] Ataman and [Bogdan] Tanjevic, gave me good chances.
"I think that now it's getting harder and harder for young players, because there is a lot of excitement when foreign players like Carlos Arroyo or Linas Kleiza, somebody like that, comes into the country.
"But I think right now the federation and the clubs are studying and talking about creating a new system for young players.
"A system to help them prove themselves in a different environment but similar to the first division, and we will see how that turns out."