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Basketball - 30. April 2012.

TUR - Shifting the attention to Ankara


ISTANBUL (FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Women) - The hard season is finally over for Turkey’s basketball players.

Most play for Galatasaray or Fenerbahce.

The former won the Turkish Cup, and the latter the league title.

Now the players from both sides will unite and play for a national team that is determined to reach the London Games via the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) for Women (25 June-1 July).

As hosts of the OQT, Turkey’s chances appear to be pretty good, especially if the fans turn out to support them in Ankara.

"I don't know about the fans,” Saziye Ivegin said to FIBA.com.

“Maybe for Turkey (national team), they'll come.”

After Galatasaray and Fenerbahce were eliminated from title contention at the recent EuroLeague Women Final Eight, the clubs didn’t get as many fans to at their remaining games as they had hoped.

“In Ankara, our gym is big and I don't know if it will be filled or not,” Ivegin said.

“We hope that it will be full.

“If they come, it will make it easier for us. Every game is very important.”

Ivegin was one of the national team’s most important players last summer when they made a surprising run to the Final of EuroBasket Women in Poland.

A win in the title game would have punched Turkey’s ticket for London, but they fell to Russia.

At least they have an opportunity get to Britain by the OQT.

“It's not long from now, in June,” Ivegin said.

“We'll meet in May and we want to go to the Olympics.

“I think we're ready.

“I think our group is not strong, like European groups, and we believe we'll go there.”

Turkey will compete in Group A at the OQT with Japan and Puerto Rico.

A win would put the team into a Quarter-Final against the Czech Republic, Argentina or New Zealand, and the winner of that game would clinch a place in the Olympics.

The Quarter-Final losers will still be alive, chasing the fifth and final spot on offer at the OQT for London.

"I think the other group will have the Czech Republic as first,” she said.

Right now, it’s important to rest.

Ivegin had a twisted ankle that sidelined her for a few weeks late in the season, and other players have been carrying knocks.

“In the Turkish league, it wasn't long but hard and every team was able to beat each other,” she said.

“We've had some injuries, including me - I was out three weeks.

“We have three weeks after the season and will get rested and rehab.

“I think we'll be ready.”

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