First of all, tell us how was this season for you?
Honestly, it was a tough season for me since the begining. I had to wait for 55 days in Turkey for my working visa and came here on November. I missed a lot of team practices and both friendly and official games. It was not only me, we had other players and even the headcoach who had to leave the country because of their visas and they also missed practices and official games as well. So, on a season like this, we had a lot of ups and downs ofcourse. The headcoach Semsettin Bas is a very good coach. Despite all these difficulties, he made us stick together and we had the most wins that we could have. We had a decent chance to go to the playoffs before this very sad period of COVID-19 has started. A special thanks to our president Adrian Moldovan and our executive director Mihai Simion for their nonstop support all season. To be honest, the level of basketball was different. I have been a team player all my career, I’m much more effective on a team who shares the ball more, respects and understands the fundamental of the game.
What do you think about the Romanian championship level?
I didn’t have the chance to watch Group A’s games. We only played against Steua, Pitesti and Craiova. These were tough games. I know some of the game results that Romanian and Turkish teams played against eachother on the European competitions and I can say that Group A teams has the level to fight for a place to play playoffs in Turkish Super League.
What did you find interesting about Romania? Do you know some traditions? Which type of tradutional meal do you like more?
I like Romania. I live in Pipera, Voluntari. And I visited Brasov once with my family. We were planing to make a tour in the country and see much more but because of COVID-19 and state of emergency, we lost that chance. Brasov was very good. Old town was like the scenes of movies. I also like Bucharest a lot. You can find anything you want in this city. I think it is a smaller version of Istanbul. I like to see different places, try different kinds of food. I have been to Romanian restaurants many times and enjoyed them. Cascaval pane and papanaşi are my favorites. About the traditions, I don’t know much but the birthdays were different for me. In Turkey, people brings birthday cake for the birthday guy. In Romania, the birthday guy brings his own cake and drinks to give people. If this is not the tradition, I’m sorry about it but at least, this was how it happened in our team.
You’ve played 5 years in Euroleague, 3 for Fener, one for Besiktas and one for Darussafaka. How was it for you to play at that level?
It’s the top level in Europe. You need to work very hard physically, to stay healthy and perform the best. And you need to be strong mentally to play a lot of games , stay at the hotels, travels…
List us 3 things that you’ll never forget from these 5 years in Euroleague.
First one is of course the Final Four that we achived for the first time in Fenerbahce’s history. Second one is Besiktas’ first and only year in Euroleague, I was there and I scored the first Euroleague points of Besiktas. Third one is about Maccabi Telaviv, how they beat us so bad when I was playing for Besiktas and how we beat them at top8 when I was playing for Fenerbahce. I respect them a lot.
You’ve won the EuroChallenge in 2012. Describe a little bit how was the whole season and the final of the European cup.
It was a season that full of stories because it started with NBA’s lockout. Deron Williams was with us, then lockout was finished and Carlos Arroyo and Pops Mensah Bonsu came. At the begining of season we got eleminated from Euro Cup, we had serious injuries and changing players. But starting with the Turkish Cup on February, with an incredible performance we won the first Turkish Cup of Besiktas history. We became a great team after that and became winners game by game. We had a good roster, all fighters, we were killing eachother on practices. As a reward of it we won the Eurochallange Cup which was first in Besiktas history again. So, after winning two cups, we were already so succesful was it was not enough for us. Nobody was expecting from us to be the champions of Turkish Super league before playoffs started. But we knew it and we beat Fenerbahce, Galatasaray and Anadolu Efes and won the third cup. It was a dream season!
Maybe the most interesting question. How does it feel to have Obradovic as a coach?
Everyone is curious about him of course. He is one of the best coaches in Europe. He really knows a lot, huge knowledge. It was great to play with him and learn from him.
In the end, how do you see your future in basketball? What about outside the gym?
I’m a guy who takes care of himself a lot. Personal practices, weight liftings, healthy nutrition. My close friends in Turkey calls me a health guru 🙂 Who knows when I will be retired! I have worked with great coaches and great players for many years. I know that I have a great knowledge about basketball. But I still don’t know if I will be a coach or not. Or if so, will I be a coach for seniors or juniors? I like to teach young kids also. The details makes the difference in basketball and I strongly believe that I can help players teaching them. Outside of the gym I’m a totally family guy. I love to hangout with my wife and kids. Seeing new places, trying different kinds of foods, socializing with friends are my favorites. I love to learn new information, so I do research a lot.