Ataman: “Turkey is here to play, not to go to war”

there is calm after the storm at the Tbilisi Arena. Turkey, including Korkmaz (who is not there is Larkin who played almost 50 minutes of the game against Georgia), trains in the silence of the facility. But, in the distance, the figure of the volcanic Ergin Ataman can be seen. “He will speak first in Turkish and then in English,” warn the press officers of the Turkish federation. Ataman makes a ‘speech‘ uninterrupted ten minutes for Turkish televisions. Imposing. Then he approaches the foreign media.

Three clear conclusions can be drawn from his speech: the first, that Turkey will not leave the Eurobasket. The second, that They have asked that the Georgia-Turkey be canceled or that at least the last four and a half minutes of the game be played “legally”. And finally, directly accuses Shengelia, Bitadze and Sanadze of assaulting Korkmaz in the locker room already a member of staff of the Turkish team that ended up on the ground. Ataman, who was in contact with the Turkish government and the embassy on Monday morning, also accuses FIBA ​​of not giving athletes a decent meal, “only borek.” These were the manifestations of him.

What happened is a scandal. After being disqualified, Korkmaz went to the locker room with one of the members of our staff. Three players from Georgia, who from what I heard and from what I was told were Toko Shengelia, Bitadze and the ejected player (Sanadze) directly attacked Korkmaz in the locker room, and also a member of our staff, which fell to the ground. When the game was over and we went to the locker room, I saw Korkmaz in my office in the locker room because he had to be protected. I insist, in a scandal. But, come on, it’s all a scandal. From the beginning. Since we came here, especially the last two or three days, it took us 45 minutes to get there because of the traffic. We are late for training, for games. In the hotel there is no special food for athletes. Just borek! But okay! I understand that. But the other is more serious. FIBA must protect the players. And when my players went to the locker room, the local police in Georgia attacked my players, beat them up to push them into the locker room. They attacked the vice president. Is incredible. That’s part of it,” he said of the locker room happening.

“And then the other part. 22 seconds less were played (the table did not stop time in the middle of the fight between Korkmaz and Sanadze). It’s a basketball game. We tried to complain to the referees during the match and they told us: ‘come on, come on, no problem‘. Immediately after the match, we made an official protest because 22 seconds is a long period of time in a basketball game. Now we have written to FIBA ​​to declare the match annulled or let the remaining four and a half minutes of the match play legally. If not, it would be ridiculous. I deserved to be expelled because I protested too long. But tremendous damage has been done to basketball. We came here to play basketball, not war. It was a surprise for me that players like Shengelia or Bitadze do that with the career they have”, he explained.

We are not thinking of leaving the tournament, how can we play basketball when everyone is complaining? I spoke with Montenegro, I spoke with Sergio Scariolo. Everybody complains about the organization. Of course, if we are not sure, we will think about it (leave the Eurobasket). I have spoken with the Turkish government, also Turkoglu. The first thing is that we need security for our players. The police cannot attack us. We are here to play basketball, not to go to war. Korkmaz was hit but he was fine. Our member of staff it did fall, Korkmaz did not. But imagine the mood of the team this morning, or imagine that of Korkmaz himself. Think that this happens in the NBA…”.

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Ataman: “Turkey is here to play, not to go to war”