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Birsen: My biggest dream is NBA
04-02-2013
 
By Mustafa Tanis
 
Quickly labeled as European 1995-born prospect James Metecan Birsen (’95) has been on the NBA scouts radar, however season 2012/13 is not the best for him actually. “Comparing to the previous year, there is something worrying in my attitude. I play for 3 teams at the same time, it’s really difficult. I practice hard and playing in 2nd Turkish division and U18 is really challenging for me” - explains Turkish forward in the interview with Mustafa Tanis from Altyapibasket.
 
How did you begin playing basketball?
- First of all, thank you to interview me. As a kid I played much soccer but because of my height I started to like basketball and in the third classs tarted to play. In that time I went to Bilfen school, my sport teacher took me in school team. After a couple of games my first trainer Cengiz Söyleyen took me to his own basketball team. His team was located 2 minutes from my home, therefore I started there.
 
Then you started to play for Fenerbahce.
- Yes, Cengiz Söyleyen, who was earlier coach at Fener, took me to Fener in 2006. My first coach at Fener was Lütfi Ahmetoglu. My next coaches were Fikret Dogan, Erdal Erdinc and Metin Agirbasoglu. I owe my current level all my coaches and I would like to thank all my coaches.
 
This season you play for Istanbul BB (secon division), for the sernior team of Fenerbahce and the U18 team of Fenerbahce. How is this situation for you?
- In fact, even 1 day before I don´t know with which team I will practice, so this is hard for me. In general I’m going to practice with Istanbul BB, but if Fenerbahce needs a player then I practice with them. Recently I’ve started to play for the U18 team because of the final stage of U18 league Istanbul.
 
How is your situation at Fenerhabce? You practice at daily basis with great players, how is your relationship to your teammates? Last year you get minutes at Fenerhabce? but this season you get no minutes. Do you think you should get more minutes?
- The opportunity of practicing with Fenerbahce is really good for me, because they are all players with good careers, experienced and professional. I get along well with all the players, they are experienced and helping me, both on the court and off the court. Of course, I think I must get more minutes, same aged players have started to getting minutes.
 
Fener fans are always excited to see young players, especially when you and Berk Ugurlu (’96) get minutes, there is a very special support. What would like to say about that? In the U18 league you are still undefeated.
- Yes, fans always support us well when we play. I hope we both will be getting more minutes and won’t let them down. You’re right. We’re doing well in U18 league. In last game we won 77:71 over Galatasaray and this season we’re the front-runner to win it all. 
 
Although last year you did play in the final of Nike International Junior Tournament and was even named the MVP, this season Fener didn’t win the qualification tournament in Rome. How was the tournament for you?
- Yes, this year we were really close to win ticket to the big final, however unfortunately we lost in the final game in Rome. Mehmet Sanli fallen quickly in foul trouble and we were forced to play without center. We still have chances to be invited to the big final to London and I hope it will happen.
 
For European and American scouts you had been one of the top prospects of your generation, but recently you’re not in the best shape. What are the reason? I think your main problem is that it’s not clear yet on which position you’re going to play.
- Yes, comparing to the previous year, there is something worrying in my attitude. I play for 3 teams at the same time, it’s really difficult. I practice hard and playing in 2nd Turkish division and U18 is really challenging for me. Normally I play on shooting guard and small forward position, but sometimes I have to help my team on the power forward, so basically it’s up to coach. He uses me where he needs.
 
What are your goals for the future? You’re already labeled as a NBA-caliber prospect. 
- I have 4 more years left of my contract with Fenerbahce. I would like to start getting more minutes in the senior team and obviously NBA is the biggest goal and a dream. Other goals are: to play for the senior national team and represent my country at Olympic Games in 2020, particularly if Turkey will host it.
 
Which players are role models for you?
- From the Turkey Hedo Turkoglu, from foreigners Planinic, Diamantidis and Durant.
 
 
Photo: FIBA Europe / Martins Silis

 
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