By Halil Ibrahim Avsar
ANKARA (AA) – Turkey men's national basketball team focused on Friday's FIBA EuroBasket 2021 qualifiers match against the Netherlands to make a winning start.
Turkish shooting guard Melih Mahmutoglu told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday that they didn't have enough time to train together for upcoming Netherlands and Sweden games as these matches will be held in mid-season but the team will do its best to win these matches.
"We don't know much about the Netherlands. But the important things are our offensive and defensive performances. We will do our best. After the Netherlands game, we will travel to Sweden. It will be a hard game in Sweden. But our first goal to get a win against Netherlands," Mahmutoglu said and adding that the Turkish team is expecting a good atmosphere against Netherlands in the capital Ankara.
Several Turkish basketball players in the NBA will be absent for Turkey's qualifying campaign but Mahmutoglu said that Turkey has an adequate squad to accomplish this task.
The Philadelphia 76ers guard Furkan Korkmaz, Cleveland Cavaliers forward Cedi Osman and Milwaukee Bucks' Ersan Ilyasova are unable to join the national team in February schedule due to the NBA fixture.
Another Turkish player, Muhsin Yasar said that NBA players' absence is an opportunity for the youngsters.
"We will miss them for sure… We will do our best to win the matches. Turkey's squad is strong. We want to win these two games to boost our morale for summer time," 24-year-old center Yasar said.
The Turkish basketball team will play against Croatia, Sweden and the Netherlands in the qualifying group to book place for the FIBA EuroBasket 2021.
Turkey will face the Netherlands in their first match in the qualifiers at home on Feb. 21, as they will take on Sweden in an away match on Feb. 24.
– EuroBasket 2021 Qualifiers format
In total, 32 nations from eight groups are set to play in the EuroBasket 2021 Qualifiers.
As teams will compete in a round-robin format, each nation will meet all other contestants in home and away games.
The three highest-placed teams from each group, except the groups which have the FIBA EuroBasket 2021 co-host nations, will bag their tickets for the EuroBasket 2021.
The FIBA EuroBasket 2021 will be co-hosted by Czech Republic, Georgia, Germany, and Italy, these teams will also play in the qualifiers.
For the groups which have host countries, the host nations and the two other highest placed teams in each group will advance to the next year's EuroBasket tournament.
Regardless of results, the host teams will qualify for the EuroBasket 2021.
There will be six game days during 2020 and 2021 as the group matches in qualifiers will begin on Feb. 20.
The first two games will be in February 2020 but there will be break until Nov. 26 when the third game day begins.