Turkey national team captain Hidayet Turkoglu is pleased to have joined his team-mates in training camp in Bormio, Italy ahead of the upcoming FIBA World Championship.
Turkoglu arrived a few days late after being traded from the Toronto Raptors to the Phoenix Suns and having to attend a press conference where he was unveiled by his new team.
The 31-year-old is delighted to be alongside his fellow countrymen as they prepare for the biggest international basketball tournament – which they will host.
“When I was in the USA, I thought a lot about being in training camp,” he said. “I was always thinking about being with my friends. I tried to follow them as much as I could.
“Now I’m so happy to be here. We want to work hard in order to reach our full potential on the court.”
As a national basketball icon, Hedo knows there will be huge expectations for Turkey to perform well – especially as they have the advantage of playing on their home soil.
“As players, we know how important this tournament is. Even these first days of training camp have shown that,” Turkoglu explained.
“We aim to be ready for 28th August and we want to impress our fans. Hopefully we can do that and also as a country we can organise a first class tournament.”
The versatile forward, who struggled in Toronto and got his wish in being traded after just one year there, knows he and his team-mates face a tough task in Ankara’s Group C where they will go up against China, Greece, Ivory Coast, Puerto Rico and Russia.
“Each team has unique players and different systems. We will do our best to be ready for all of them,” he added.
“Playing in our own country and with the fans behind us should be factors that we should combine with our performance.”
Turkoglu believes that all of the participating countries have a chance to win a medal. However, being the host country gives Turkey a very important advantage, one which he hopes to capitalise on.