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Okur to play for Turkey this summer

We keep telling you -- the FIBA World Championships are a big deal. Not so much here in America, but for the rest of the world this rivals or surpasses the Olympics.

And foreign-born NBA players are under a lot of pressure to play for their country. While their coaches and team owners here tell them to rest for the next season.

There was added pressure on Mehmet Okur -- his native Turkey is hosting this summer’s tournament -- so he agreed to play this summer, according to the Desert News.

But after meeting over dinner Tuesday night here in Toronto with two officials from the Turkish Basketball Federation, Türkiye Basketbol Federasyonu, Jazz center Mehmet Okur seemed confident Wednesday that he’ll play when later this year his home country hosts FIBA’s World Championships.

“Pretty much I’ll be there,” said Okur, who scored 16 in Utah’s win Wednesday at Toronto.

Okur, 30, has battled back spasms and other assorted injuries this season. With the Turkish team known for intense and, well, odd training, he told Turkish officials he may have to back off a little.
“It’s really hard to ... to run outside, and mountains, jumping, stuff like that,” added Okur, who won silver with Turkey’s 2001 European Championships team. “Because we play 100 games over here (in the NBA, including preseason/postseason games) ... I said I’ll do that stuff, but if you want give my 100 percent, you just have to trust me. It went quite well.”

Turkey should actually have a decent team. Okur will be joined by Hedo Turkoglu and Ersan Ilyasova on the squad.