|16 August 2012|
|Ilkan Karaman suited up for Pinar Karsiyaka in the EuroChallenge and is now more than ready to represent Turkey on the big stage |
Perhaps no player is looking forward to running onto the court in a Turkey uniform for an official game more than Ilkan Karaman.
The 2.05m forward is a star on the rise, evident from the fact that he was selected late in the second round of this year's NBA Draft by the Brooklyn Nets.
With several veterans out of the mix this summer for Turkey, the 22-year-old Karaman is eager to make his mark with the national team.
He will have a chance to do so on Saturday when Turkey host Belarus in Ankara.
"It's great pride for me to play for the national team," he said.
"From the beginning, my goal has been to play in the national team and the NBA.
"Now, I've come into the national team.
"My next goal is to be successful in the NBA.
"So my performance in the national team is very important.
"I want to be here permanently."
Karaman played for Turkey at youth level.
He competed at the U20 European Championship in 2009 and '10.
Georgia Worried About Zaza
At last year's EuroBasket, Georgia had to play all of their games in Vilnius without center Zaza
|Zaza Pachulia is doubtful for Georgia's opener against Romania|
The Atlanta Hawks center got hurt and had to support his teammates from the bench.
After picking up a knock on Georgia's recent trip to Germany, where they fell to Svetislav Pesic's team in a friendly, Pachulia apparently strained a muscle and is now an uncertainty for the opening EuroBasket clash with Romania.
Pachulia will be evaluated before Saturday's game.
"I hope everything will be fine," he said.
Getting Wins Despite Key Absences
Ukraine and the Czech Republic have gone into battle this summer without two players they would love to have.
Kyrylo Fesenko isn't playing for Ukraine and Jan Vesely is missing for the Czech Republic.
Mike Fratello, whose team overcame Hungary on opening night, 77-71, didn't seem to miss their center all that much because they out-rebounded Hungary, 46-28.
The Czechs also impressed in a win at Belarus, where they prevailed, 73-65.
Vesely decided not to make himself available this summer and instead is focusing on his NBA career with the Washington Wizards.
Fratello, meanwhile, has explained why the 2.13m center Fesenko isn't with the team.
He spoke to him just a few days before the Hungary game.
"Two days ago I first spoke with Kyrylo," Fratello said.
"He apologized for failing to join the team.
"Fesenko does not feel in good physical shape after gaining weight because of a knee injury.
"He's working hard to get in shape, but doesn't want to risk getting hurt (now).
"I listened to him, wished him the fastest return to form, said the team will be waiting for him next year.
"This decision not to join the team was Kyrylo's."