Although not included in the pool, the Turkey national team expects NBA player Ersan Ilyasova to come aboard immediately for the Manila qualifier should he secure a new contract in the league, according to head coach Ergin Ataman.
“He promised us that if he signs, he will come directly but if he don’t, he will become a free agent and he will not come to play,” said Ataman to a handful of reporters after their practice at the Mall of Asia Arena on Thursday night.
July 1 (Manila time) is a crucial day for Ilyasova that will decide if he will be playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder next season or become a free agent this offseason.
Ilyasova was part of a blockbuster trade last week that sent him, third-year guard Victor Oladipo and rookie Domantas Sabonis to the Thunder for Serge Ibaka to Orlando Magic.
Though still uncertain of the 6-foot-10 forward’s status, the Turk coach said the 12 Dev Adam (Giant Men) at his disposal are determined to clinch the wildcard Olympics ticket for their countrymen who were recently horrified by a suicide bombing attack at the Istanbul Ataturk Airport.
“We miss Ilyasova, I don’t know if he can come, but anyway, we will fight to get to play in the Olympic because we know that for our people and for our country, especially in this time, it will be very important,” said Ataman.
“This is a difficult group because France is a strong team and I think Canada is also a dangerous team for us but we’re also a good team. We will fight for the Olympic game,” he added.
The 50-year old mentor also confirmed that there were no family members of the players and coaching staff directly harmed to the incident. – By Jason Mercene
Follow this writer on Twitter: @JasonMercenePH