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Young Osman Prepares For Big Role With Turkey

04 August 2015
EUROBASKET 2015

6. Cedi Osman (Turkey)
Cedi Osman: "I feel that I have more responsibilities this year and I want to take on these responsibilities"

Cedi Osman resisted the temptation to suit up for Turkey in the U20 European Championship this summer, thus giving up the chance to defend his tournament MVP award and gold medal from 2014.

The 20-year-old winger was coming off an action-packed year which started with his stellar U20 European Championship last summer, continued with his debut on the senior national team at the FIBA Basketball World Cup and culminated in a long and hectic season with Anadolu Efes in both the Turkish TBL and the Euroleague.

Both Turkey and the player chose to see the big picture this summer and the upshot of the decision to have Osman skip the U20 competition and take part in the senior national team's training camp for EuroBasket 2015 from its very first day has just been revealed.

Turkey head coach Ergin Ataman affirmed to Daily Sabah that he plans for Osman to get a spot in the starting line-up at the upcoming EuroBasket, only a year after handing the youngster his first international caps with the senior team.

While there are still 31 days left until the tournament tips off and Turkey's preliminary squad reached full strength less than a week ago, as some players joined preparations later, coach Ataman had offered several hints throughout the past months that he was planning an upgraded role for the U20 European Championship MVP of 2014.

Emir Preldzic, Turkey, 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup
Osman is expected to step in for Emir Preldzic, who will skip EuroBasket 2015

Osman is therefore expected to occupy the spot of Emir Preldzic, who will not take part at EuroBasket 2015, in Turkey's starting five.

"Last year, the FIBA Basketball World Cup was really a big experience for me," Osman told Daily Sabah.

"Even though I played just five to seven minutes in each game, it was still a very big thing for me because I didn't expect to be on the team.

"Coach Ataman took me to the World Cup, he believed in me and I think I gave my best for the team.

"I feel that I have more responsibilities this year and I want to take on these responsibilities."

Of course Turkey will have another change in their starting line-up at EuroBasket 2015, when compared to the FIBA World Cup, as Ersan Ilyasova has returned to the national team after missing out on last year's big tournament through injury.

The star power forward will not only be Turkey's leader on the court, but also a veteran charged with helping the young players' transition to the senior national team.

In addition to Osman, coach Ataman has also included 18-year-old Furkan Korkmaz, 19-year-old Egemen Güven and 20-year-olds Kenan Sipahi, Emircan Kosut and Kartal Özmizrak in his preliminary squad.

Ataman has stated that at least one of these five youngsters will most probably be on Turkey's final 12-man team for EuroBasket 2015.

"Turkey currently has the right staff to work with these talented players, you need to establish a system which helps them gain experience and Ataman is the perfect coach for this mission," Ilyasova told the TBF official website from Bormio, in Italy, where Turkey are conducting the main stage of their training camp.

Ilyasova also stated that for these young players who have already been named 'Turkey's Golden Generation' after winning two gold medals at the U18 European Championship and gold in the U20 competition of 2014, the transition to senior level is of critical importance in their career.

"It will not be easy," Ilyasova said.

"I'm ready to play with players that want to be successful and I will try to lead this young team.

"For the youngsters, it is important to realise that the success they tasted in youth tournaments will not be enough."

Ersan Ilyasova (Turkey)
Ersan Ilyasova is convinced that all players will leave their hearts on the court for Turkey

Both Osman and Ilyasova, despite their age and experience level difference, are equally optimistic about Turkey's chances at EuroBasket 2015.

"We are in a tough group as Spain, Italy and Serbia are really tough teams and really good, but I think we are also a good team," said Osman.

"We have good players. Furkan Aldemir and Ersan Ilyasova play in the NBA.

"I think they can help us. Also, if we play like we have played up until now, we can do well."

Ilyasova meanwhile believes this youthful Turkish side maintains the fighting spirit which earned the national team the affectionate nickname of '12 Giant Men'.

"This is something that everyone on the team is aware of, when you are a part of the 12 Giant Men, you cannot quit the fight," the forward said.

"At the EuroBasket we will have some new players but we will fight again with the same motivation."

Turkey play their opening game in EuroBasket Group B in Berlin against Italy, on 5 September.

They will then take on Spain, Germany, Serbia and finally Iceland in the race for a top-four finish in the group which grants a ticket to the Round of 16.

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