| ||Jeff Taylor has been covering European basketball since 1997, when he first worked on the television program SLAM. He has been a basketball writer and broadcaster since that time, traveling the continent and covering the game in depth for FIBA Europe since its launch in 2003. |
Euphoria, excellence and excitement.
Is there a better way to describe Turkish women's basketball now, after Ceyhun Yildizoglu's team went on an unexpected and remarkable run to the EuroBasket Women Final?
Just once before had Turkey reached the Quarter-Finals, in 2005 when they hosted the event.
There is another word that begins with the letter ‘E' that might explain the feeling shared by players in other countries when they consider the gathering momentum of basketball in Turkey.
There is envy.
Who wouldn't want to go on a magical run to a title game in the ultra-competitive EuroBasket Women the way Turkey did, thriving in a do-or-die climate that saw Yildizoglu's side defeating Belarus to reach the Quarter-Finals for just the second time?
|Maybe it has nothing to do with Turkey's secret of success, but the fact there is unity between the men's and the women's national team sure helps with moral, as forward Bahar Caglar explains|
They also sprung a major upset against France, winning 68-62 in overtime.
It was one of the most thrilling contests ever played in the competition.
There were veterans leading the way for Turkey, like Nevin Nevlin, Birsel Vardarli, Saziye Ivegin and all-tournament selection Nevriye Yilmaz.
There was also the emergence of Bahar Caglar, the 22-year-old power forward who will be an integral part of the national side as it moves into a new and very likely successful era.
Caglar, the youngest player on the team, averaged 18 minutes per contest.
"I just want to do my best in position three, or four - whatever I can do in the time I get," Caglar said.
"If I can score, rebound - whatever."
The look on Caglar's face at the EuroBasket Women said it all, that her national team had found an energy and confidence that made anything possible.
"Definitely, we got better every day this summer," she said.
"We might have had a bad start in the tournament, but each game, and the most important game against Belarus to get to the Quarter-Finals, we had our best game.
"And we kept getting better."
Looking back at the EuroBasket Women, Turkey seemed to do everything at a speed of 100 miles per hour.
And they always battled.
"We have the mind, we play fast and never quit," Caglar said.
"We never stop playing."
There is so much to like about Turkish basketball.
There is a togetherness being fostered by the federation.
According to Ivegin, the men said last year at the FIBA World Championship, where they won a silver medal, that they had played the game for the Turkish women, too.
Caglar says she and her Turkish teammates drew inspiration from the men.
"We were very excited and crying in the Final game," she said.
"Everyone in the women's team watched this game together.
"It was a great thing for us, the Championship being in our country was a real honor for us."
Russia proved to be too good, too determined and too strong on Sunday and beat Turkey, 59-42, in the gold-medal game.
Turkey were nevertheless elated to take home a silver.
Another reward for taking a top-five finish was a place in next year's FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Women, which could end up being staged in Caglar's own country.
"It was the first goal we set, being in this (Olympic qualifying) tournament," Caglar said.
"This has been a great tournament for us."