A Story Of Flight

The 12 giant men of the Turkish National Basket Ball Team signed off on a major success as they came in second place in the world championships. Giant number thirteen was Bogdan Tanjevic.

Opened for the 2010 FIBA World Championship, Sinan Erdem Sports Hall hosted the tournament in perfect form, proving beyond a doubt that it surpasses its counterparts around the world.


t the start of the FIBA 2010 World Championships, if one were to say that America would be facing Turkey at the final, nobody would believe it. Once the championships began, Turkey beat Puerto Rico, one of the American continent’s most important teams, in Ankara. Beating Russia, who came in first at the European Championships in Spain, and bringing Greece (which it had not been able to beat for thirty-five years) to its knees afterward, it emerged as top dog in its group.

That’s also when our team happened to shatter China and Ivory (as in the Coast) alike!
Coming in first in our group was really rather unexpected. With the wins that had been gained according to the first round of random drawing and after emerging as number one, we had been able to guarantee that we wouldn’t be facing USA until the finals. We defused France, which purposefully lost to New Zealand due to having set their eye on us, with minimum fuss. As the French team – which is the source of more NBA players than any other outside America – left the court in a shambles, ending the journey with the “Wild card” given by FIBA.

Our next rival was Slovenia; despite appearing before us with great determination and having beaten all of its rivals besides the US with ease, they could not escape the wrath of our players. And thus, the quarter final went by for us without a scratch, before the thousands packing the stadium and the millions sitting in front of screens.

A single point at the semifinal allowed us to overpower the most experienced and formidable team of each championship, Serbia, thanks to Kerem Tunçeri’s last minute intervention, which he shall surely go down in history for. We saw that defeated Serbia was decorated with star players who would make their marks on the sport. But all that was immaterial now; we were finalists in the 2010 FIBA World Championships.

After a weary and sleepless night with no chance for rest, the Turkish National Team, which perhaps could have been the only one to beat the US in this tournament, settled for second place and a silver medal. Thanks to the matches broadcast live by 172 national television channels, our country had an excellent opportunity for self-promotion. The Turkish Basketball Federation passed the test imposed by the World Championships both on and off the court and is more than deserving of applause.

The tournament also set the stage for a number of records; here are some of them: World Championships viewership record; box office record; the championship most extensively covered in written and visual media; the greatest number of sports delegates in the protocol, FIBA, and its various branches; the most magnificent opening night thus far; and the largest audience at matches, which were followed by thousands of viewers in the FANZONE areas that were imposed by FIBA.

Our national team brought its opponents - Russia, France and Slovenia, Europe’s strongest teams - to their knees one by one with a zone defense that is now the stuff of legend.

Despite Slovenia’s going up against us with a cocky slogan, we thwarted their plays with our defense and took it all the way to victory with our slam dunks.

He conquered his competitors, now it’s time to conquer the disease. Despite suffering from cancer, Bogdan Tanjevic, the first coach in the world to train three national teams, interrupted his treatment so as not to leave our national team in the lurch.

Number machine: One of Turkey’s NBA stars, Ersan İlyasova carried his team to the silver with the points he scored. İlyasova, whose life has been fraught with injuries, made good his ambition to be the tournament’s numbers king right up to the last two matches.

Team captain Hidayet Türkoğlu has been an NBA star for years. With his NBA experience, he took the Turkish team to the final by being a superb leader and a big brother to the 12 Giant Men.

Hats off! Turkey is the World’s Number Two right up to the last whistle of the next FIBA World Championship to be played in 2014. Everybody had a big hand in this year’s success. But special mention goes to Ömer Onan and Sinan Güler, who narrowed the field  for their competitors with their defense, and Kerem Tunçeri, who paved the way to the final for us with a layup just four seconds before the final whistle of the match with Serbia.

Previous world champions Spain were the country with the largest number of fan reservations at the 2010 FIBA World Championship. But if it hadn’t been for big NBA star Paul Gasol they would have had to be content with fifth place. Argentina meanwhile has gone down in history as the team of finals. But their fans, who traveled thousands of kilometers, left disappointed, their only consolation that they got to see our lovely country.

World with us: The 2010 FIBA World Basketball Championship is the largest sports event after the Olympics and the World Football Championship. A spectacular opening ceremony and a previously unseen number of accredited members of the press at the matches made Turkey’s name known around the world. The most spectacular opening ever mounted up to now took place at the 2010 FIBA World Championship in Sinan Erdem Hall. The whole world came to Turkey, and we were the world’s guests, on TV, on radio and in the print media.