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31/03/2014 09:00
Turkey’s Volleyball hero Emre Batur takes lots of positives from Final Four weekend
2014 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League - Men

Ankara, Turkey, March 31, 2014. Emre Batur is probably one of Turkey’s most known Volleyball players out there and his fame got an additional boost last week as he was among the players who won silver at the Final Four of the 2014 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League – Men. The middle-blocker also got the award for the Best Server of the Final Four Tournament and easily turned into the favorite hero for the many young boys who cheered on Halkbank ANKARA from the stands of Baskent Volleyball Hall.

Click here for a comprehensive picture gallery to review the Final Four weekend in Ankara

“There are many positives we can take from the Final Four weekend,” Batur says. “It was the very first time that the Final Four of the men’s competition was held in Turkey and it was also my first appearance in the last and most exciting stage of Europe’s elite competition. We also played against some of the world’s best Volleyball players. The only bad memory is linked with the fourth set of the final with Belogorie where we were leading 22:17 and ended up losing the match. Still I believe that after the Final Four we got an extra boost of confidence and we now see our opponents in a different way. Apart from that ominous fourth set, I think that we all had a very good experience,” he continues. “Personally, whenever I make mistakes, I always get demoralized but this has changed now. During the matches of the Final Four, even after making silly mistakes, I always found a way to re-energize myself and motivate the other members of the team. So, starting from this experience, I think that the Final Four weekend will have a positive impact on me and on the whole team as well. We are ready to go for more success in the future.”

Halkbank really wanted to win gold at home to write history for men’s Volleyball in Turkey but in the end the home heroes had to be content with silver. “We played before 7,000 fans and it definitely was an advantage for us. I am happy with the silver medal because we could even have finished our campaign in fourth place. And by the way, Belogorie is a very strong team so they deserved this title.”

Though happy with the final outcome of his home campaign, still Emre spots a few things he would change looking back at the final match with Belogorie. “Well, if I compare my performance in the semi-final with the way I started the final match, it definitely was below my standards. I did not serve as strong and good as I did in the semi but after finding my way into the game, I played quite good, especially in blocking. The middle-blockers of Belogorie are just extraordinary and it is not that easy to stand their challenge, but I believe that in the end I performed quite strong too.”

The performance shown by Halkbank during the Final Four is expected to boost the popularity of men’s Volleyball across Emre’s home country. “Well, Volleyball is already quite popular here in Turkey. I normally perform quite strong and fans are used to this but of course if you play the final match of the CEV Volleyball Champions League you get a way more exposure and visibility. I was told that the final was televised in 92 countries and many people around the world have followed my actions and those of Halkbank, so in this sense the Final Four may change things in a good way for us.”

Together with libero Nuri Sahin, Emre is the only Turkish-born player included in the starting six of Halkbank. The award for the Best Server he received at the end of the Final Four weekend was the icing on the cake also for the home fans: “Frankly speaking I did not expect it because my performance in the final match was not as good as in the semi-final with the Polish team. However, an individual award is a big thing for men’s Volleyball here in Turkey and of course I feel honored with this. Now I want to show that I did not receive this individual award by chance, so I want to perform strong also in the next competitions and win some more prizes. Our head coach Radostin Stoytchev keeps on saying that the serve is one of the main strengths we have in our team, so I will keep on working on this fundamental.”

Emre confirmed in Ankara his status of Volleyball idol for many young boys who inspired by this down-to-earth 24-year old guy may one day decide to take up the sport. “I can only say that they have to work hard and always think positive if they want to achieve something in life. Our sport requires a lot of hard work and dedication. None is born a Volleyball player, so I would invite the youngsters of our country to work hard and never give up their dreams.”

Picture: Emre Batur receiving the award for the Best Server of the Final Four by Hakan Ates, CEO of DenizBank, title sponsor of the CEV Volleyball Champions League

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