My name is Cenk Akyol and for the next month or so I will be blogging here at HoopsHype.com about what I’m going through with the Turkish National before and during the European Championship. That will be my second experience in a major tournament with the senior team. I already played last year at the World Championship and we’re hoping here to build on the success we had in Japan.
If you ask me, the key for our team is to win the first game. When we did that last year, our confidence grew up a lot and we ended up having a great tournament. You always start off these tournaments with a lot of pressure and getting a win in the first game it’s like, “Whew!” If we do that again this year, watch out.
The turmoil in the National Team is something of the past. The atmosphere on the team was very good in Japan and it’s still very good this time. And now we have Memo Okur and Hedo Turkoglu playing with us! What we have, I think, it’s a very good combination of young players like me, guys that are stars in the NBA and veterans that have excelled in Europe like Ibrahim Kutluay. You don’t even know who the go-to guy is because there’s so much talent. (And anyway, stars don’t matter as much as the team does). Besides, we have have a coach in Bogdan Tanjevic that is not just a coach, but also our friend. That always helps.
Those who watch the Euroleague may already know me because I play for Efes Pilsen. Those who follow the NBA only may know me because I was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks in 2005. I though I had a shot at making the team this summer. I went to Chicago to work out with Tim Grover and the Hawks brass saw me there. I thought they were impressed with what I proved there. I have improved a lot since I was selected in the draft when I was just 18 and I think it showed in Chicago. I will be back with Efes Pilsen this year, though, as the Hawks want me to hone my skills another season under David Blatt.
Hopefully I’ll be an NBA player by this time next year. We’ll see. For now, I’m focused in the Eurobasket. You’ll read about what’s going on there with me here. Bye!