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One of Turkey’s true greats Hedo Turkoglu has decided to step down from international basketball, ending a career that spanned two decades.
The news was to be expected, but the timing is a little surprising with the FIBA World Cup of Basketball on the horizon in August. Despite the decision Turkoglu has enjoyed a memorable international career with Turkey, having made his debut at Eurobasket in 1999, and going on to compete in a record eight Eurobaskets overall and, of course, he won a silver medal with the Turks at the 2010 world championships in Istanbul.
“I would like to announce my retirement from the Turkish Team, of which I have been a member since 1998, in order to make way for young players as my fans would understand,” Turkoglu said in a statement, as reported by Turkish news agency Anadolu.
“I will always be proud to have been a Turkish basketball international and of representing my country,” the Los Angeles Clippers player added.
Some speculated that Turkoglu’s decision to retire was due to the appointment of Galatasaray coach Ergin Ataman. There was a brief rumour that swirled around the Turkish media that the 35-year-old was unhappy that veteran coach Bogdan Tanjevic stepped down.
The NBA forward quickly dismissed that rumour though wishing Ataman the best in his new role. The new coach has already laid down a set of goals for the national team, with the main one being to medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
“He has made a team [Galatasaray] into champions in the last two years, we are supporting him and I hope the national team will improve under him,” Turkoglu said of Ataman.
Turkey secured a wildcard spot at this year’s World Cup in Spain and will play favourites the USA, Dominican Republic, Ukraine, New Zealand and Finland in Group C. The games will be played in Bilbao.