NBA : Berkan Durmaz: “Basketball Champions League Managed The Crisis Very Well”


By M. Bahadır Akgün /

Berkan Durmaz, the young player of TOFAŞ Sports Club, gave a special interview to Eurohoops.

The 23-year-old national player touched upon many issues, from his career goals to his performance in the Basketball Champions League, from what he did during the pandemic process to his special relationship with Sammy Mejia.

Interview with Berkan Durmaz in your presence …

– I want to start with the JDA Dijon game in the Basketball Champions League. You played a good match as a team, but you had a very high performance individually. It was an unlucky defeat. You continue to improve in outer shots. You showed this one more time in that game. What do you think about the point you want to come to and where you are in your career? How does it feel to take such responsibility at TOFAŞ?

– My life philosophy is to always be better. Better than yesterday, worse than tomorrow. That’s why I try to add something to myself every day. I’ve been working on shooting especially for the last four seasons. I am working with Samir Big Brother. Serkan Erdoğan was our personal trainer. I was working with him too. I always try to complete the places I see missing. I also like to have a big share in the cake and to be responsible when the team is winning on the field or doing good things. After all, we are basketball players and we are happy when we do pretty, nice things on the court. I can say that I have such a philosophy.

– I really enjoy watching you. You are playing career matches this season, but unfortunately things did not go very well for TOFAŞ, especially in the last two games in the Basketball Champions League. There were also very unfortunate defeats, those defeats came in extension. What do you think about the team moving to the next stages? What are your goals? How far do you think you can go after that?

– Of course, it seems like a disadvantage for us to be a group of four, losing to two opponents at home, but ultimately there is a season played without an audience. If they beat us at our own home, we can beat them at their own. After all, there is not much difference between us. As a team, I am sure that when we focus only on improving ourselves, we will have great chances for the top tours.

– There was a separation that we did not expect much, Orhun Ene left TOFAŞ. It was a surprise breakup, at least for the public. Did you expect such a separation? How did this separation affect you?

– So we also learned at the same time that Orhun Brother left. Of course, we, as professional athletes, have to do our job in the best way possible. Life goes on. We had to win a match, somehow react and play. We did two in two in the league but in the Champions League in Turkey ado, we lost our unfortunate own home. But of course there are a lot of parameters until the match gets there. He’s working hard on them. We work hard to make up for those deficiencies both with meetings and when we go out on the field. I hope we will be able to make up for those mistakes in the future.

– You are only 23 years old. We see that the players went to the NBA at a later age and went through different stages. What are your future goals? Do you have an NBA dream or are you planning other things?

– My primary dream is to spend this season perfectly with TOFAŞ. We had a slow start, we want to put together very well. Last year we were in the top eight in 7DAYS EuroCup, maybe we could stay in the top four. Still to come in the first four league Turkey that level, breaking the first five places, work to pass the final quarter-final and semi-final exit in the playoffs … My dream is primarily to achieve them. Then of course every player wants to level up. Of course, among my personal goals, I also aim to become a Turkish player who takes responsibility in European cups or to be a player with a certain role in the NBA if it is fortune. I try to achieve my goal with individual training outside the team. I continue these in order to prove these in the field, to be useful to my team and to eat the fruits of those efforts myself.

– Your style of play is very suitable for basketball played today. In the past, players of your style could be criticized for being between two positions, but when you have developed your physique and skills, especially your shots, you are very suitable for basketball today. Is there a player that you liken to this game style?

– I do not compare myself, but I am someone who likes to watch and analyze. That’s why I watch many people and think about “how can I adapt their good sides to my own basketball”. Here’s where to shoot when you get the ball, what decisions do you have to make in the post-up, do you need to throw it or reverse it? I’m trying to learn by watching all of them. That’s why I follow many players. I cannot say that I compare myself to a single person.

– The pandemic period is very heavy for everyone. We see the effects of this also in basketball. But in all this calendar crunch, the Basketball Champions League organized a flexible fixture. This makes it easier to play the postponed matches. What do you think about this? Do you think what the organization is trying to do in this sense is correct? What do you feel about this process?

– I think the Basketball Champions League managed this crisis very well. I also think that they turned it into an opportunity for the future periods. I think FIBA ​​acted very logically in this regard. For us, of course, since I am someone who always wants to play as many European matches as possible and wants to play two games a week, the reduction of the number of teams in the group to four and the elimination of those who did not make it to the top two there was a bit upsetting, but the decisions that FIBA ​​has made here are extremely logical. I think it is.

During the pandemic, many people spent very long periods at home. Many people went through this process by watching TV series and movies. Have you had a TV show or movie you’ve watched? How did you spend that period?

– Frankly, I haven’t had such an opportunity. I spent constant training at home. I’ve also improved myself in cooking. I concentrated on playing games to train, cook and socialize with my friends, but most of my days were spent at home training. In fact, I did something like this, I usually like to watch TV series when I go away instead of watching TV series or movies when I’m at home. I hadn’t seen The Last Dance, so I was also lynched in my friend group “How not to watch!” he. I said “I’m saving it for the road.” By the way, I still haven’t finished. I have the last three episodes left.

– You talked about cooking. What is the food you cook best or the food you learned in the process?

I discovered things that tasted great for me rather than the best. One is to cook the sweet potato in the oven with julien-chopped carrots. It has such a sugary, light, excellent taste. I discovered it. I also discovered beet chips. Those two came from different discoveries for me during the pandemic period.

– Complete sports food.

– As the pandemic period started, I started working with dietitian Gizem Tümay individually two days after our Fenerbahçe match. I actually discovered those recipes with him. I saw great benefit. I took 8 kilograms of muscle, especially during the pandemic period. I tried to get as much muscle mass as lean, as little fat as possible. I gained 8 kilos. That is why that period was very critical and beautiful for me.

– One of my questions was this: There is a lot of talk about the mental health of actors these days. It is stated that especially the players have had difficulties during the pandemic period. I wanted to ask you about him, I can understand that he spent this process very efficiently for himself. How was that process for you?

– Since I have been going to the national team camps continuously since the age of 15, there was not a long period in which I could spare time for myself and work. Now, while I had such an opportunity, I took a vacation for only one week from the first day until the season started. That’s why I spent this period very productively. We did online programs and trainings with my personal conditioner Elçin Çaçan. I stocked up a dumble home from the club. I made such a nice working environment for myself. That’s why it was very enjoyable for me.

– What do you think about Beşiktaş’s project this year? Young Turkish players take significant time. Do you think the players taking this long time will show any benefit for our country basketball?

– I think Turkish players have an excellent opportunity to prove that when given responsibility, given a certain amount of time, something can be achieved. Alperen has been doing this for weeks. I think he is one of the league leaders in terms of score right now.

– So do you think the league can end while the pandemic continues like this?

– So far I think it has gone very well. Only a few matches were postponed. I believe it can be over. After all, it was played for nine weeks, and I think the continuation may come. I think the league will be finished, but postponed, if there are any extraordinary situations. But of course the Federation makes the decision. My belief is that the league can end anyway.

Let’s say you have to win a basketball game to end the whole curse of 2020. I would like to ask you to choose four teammates from among all the basketball players ever.

– Let’s make an interesting mix. Number 1… Number 3 is sure right now, Sammy Mejia. It’s here, the counter. I take Shaquille O’Neal for number 5. Number 1 from the old … Let’s take David Rivers. It would be a shame if we do not take His Majesty in number 2.

– Do you miss Sammy Mejia?

– We spent four years with him. The year I was a professional was with me, now I am 23 years old. We spent a long time together, shared a lot. Of course he was like a member of the family now. He felt like a Turkish anyway. We were going to places where we had Turkish food together. Before the European matches, we had a baked bean-rice classic. Barış Ağabey, me, Berk, Muhaymin, Sam Abi… So we were gathering and eating before the match. He was also a very good leader in the field. I think I also learned a lot from him. I think I learned a lot while watching him, following that closely. It was especially useful for me because I was adding something to myself from everything he did. He and Barış brother have contributed a lot to me in these matters.

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