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09/02/2014 17:00
Turkey’s rising star Burutay Subasi can’t wait for Final Four weekend
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Ankara, Turkey, February 9, 2014. Halkbank ANKARA is set to host the Final Four Tournament of the 2014 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League – Men through March 22-23 and local star Burutay Subasi can barely wait for these days to come. Subasi, 23, is probably the best Turkish Volleyball player around and this year got the opportunity to join a star-studded roster that includes the likes, inter alia, of Matey Kaziyski, Osmany Juantorena, and Raphael Vieira de Oliveira.
“Of course it is a great feeling to be in a team with some of the world’s best volleyball players” he says. “It is a source of joy. With their help the Turkish players in the team will be able to develop their skills. And since I am still very young, I am proud and happy that I have been given the chance to play with them and for this team.”   

What did you learn so far while training and playing with Osmany, Matey, and Raphael and under the guidance of Radostin Stoytchev? Do they intimidate you or do you already get along well?

“I have been learning a lot from each one of them. These players are truly exceptional. They try to avoid making mistakes even during our practices. They keep on saying that in order to be a world-class player you have to stick to some principles. And since the winner is always the team which makes fewer mistakes, well, if you get used to that philosophy in your trainings, this can only have a positive impact on your performance during the matches. I also have to say that they are not arrogant at all. They interact with the younger players all the time and they treat us a bit like their little brothers. As for our coach, he wants to make sure we develop individually as well as a team. He shares the same philosophy of our major stars. They all are very professional and they can easily select the moments where you have to be focused on the game and those where you can relax, laugh and have fun.”    

You are considered by many experts the Turkish Volleyball player with the greatest potential. Do you feel any pressure or responsibility since the expectations are so high?
“I have to say that every player feels the same pressure, especially during the most important and difficult matches. It does not matter who you are but the way you feel at that moment. Thank God I have to say that I have the chance to play with talented and professional players, so that I can learn from them and improve. This is helping me progress and develop as a player and as a person as well. I am very lucky right now because I am surrounded by some of the world’s best players. This way I do not get to feel so much pressure on me and even if there would be pressure on my shoulders, I would try to find a way to cope with it, at least for the sake of my love for volleyball.”  

Halkbank will be hosting the Final Four Tournament of the 2014 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League. Which are your feelings five weeks before the actions get started at the Baskent hall?

“It is difficult to find the right words to describe my feelings. It feels great to know that we will be playing to win the Champions League and that we stand a chance to achieve this goal. This is a dream that you have to live and I wish many more teams and players will get the same opportunity too.”

This will be your second appearance in a Final Four after you played in Lodz in 2012 with the likes of Arkas IZMIR. Which memories do you still have from those days in Poland where your team ended up in fourth place after surprisingly qualifying to the last act of the tournament?
“I still have many memories. I was really proud because that was the first time a team from Turkey had made the Final Four of the men’s Champions League. It was the experience of a lifetime, and especially because of the local fans. The hall was packed with more than 10,000 supporters who never stopped cheering on their heroes. They turned into the seventh player for the home team. I hope we can get the same ambiance also here in Ankara. I have never seen anything like that for a volleyball game here in Turkey; it was like being in a soccer stadium.”

Turkish teams have been very successful in the women’s European Cups and the women’s national team has performed strong as well. Why does men’s volleyball still struggle to be competitive at the highest level?
“You can see that two or three good players are enough to compose a competitive team in women’s volleyball and this applies also to those participating in the Champions League. Women’s volleyball is very different because power does not have the same impact and importance it has in men’s volleyball. Sometimes I follow women’s volleyball on television; I like Jovana Brakocevic who plays for VakifBank and also for the Serbian national team. You can see that she can make the difference; she is a factor whenever she plays. Of course the successes in the European Cups and the good performances of our national team have boosted the development and popularity of women’s volleyball in Turkey. But if only two or three players can be a factor in women’s volleyball, the same does not apply to men’s volleyball. One single player cannot make the difference and each member of the team has to be good. Anyway, women’s volleyball has achieved a lot and therefore they have attracted more investments. If we work hard and achieve the same results, things will change also for men’s volleyball here in Turkey.”

Let’s go back to where it all began: how did you start playing volleyball? Why did you choose this sport and which were the steps you have gone through on your way to become a professional player?
“Well, if I have to recount where it all began, there is a funny story I can share. Initially I had chosen soccer because I love this sport. However, my late father was a volleyball coach and my sister also played volleyball. We lived in Canakkale where I was a member of the local football club. After we all moved to Ankara because my sister was transferred here, I enrolled in a soccer club known as Genclerbirligi. The weather here in Ankara was not as pleasant as in my home town and actually it was extremely cold as we were of course training outdoors. So in the end I decided I would not continue with soccer because of that and since my family was already into volleyball, it was somehow natural that I would choose this among all other indoor sports. I liked volleyball right from the very beginning. I like this sport because it helps you develop true friendships. You always want to cover and compensate for any mistake of your teammates and your mates always give you a pat on the back, which is a nice feeling. It was not easy to make it to where I am right now but I can only say that I have forgotten and gone beyond the difficulties I have found along the way.”

If you had the chance to talk to some young guys, how would you convince them to take up volleyball instead of other sports?

“As I just mentioned, because you can find true friends and friendship is one of the most important things nowadays. All of my best friends come from the volleyball family. Moreover, if you commit yourself to volleyball, your efforts will pay off”.

The CEV campaign “Fair Play – Volleyball Way” is being extensively promoted in this year’s CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League. What does “fair play” mean to you?

“If you play fair, you will enjoy even more the fun that naturally comes along with volleyball. I think that fair play somehow embodies the soul of volleyball. You never get to see any fight in the stands. And I think that the spectators will always behave accordingly if they see that their heroes play fair. This is the best slogan we could choose for volleyball and its promotion.”

One last question: March 22-23, the days of the Final Four. What do you expect and what do you wish to yourself and to your team? Is there any message you would like to send out to your fans and, more generally, to the supporters of Halkbank?

“Even though we know that it is not going to be easy, we all have our sight set on the cup. We will be playing three of the best teams in Europe, probably in the world, so there is no room for making mistakes. We have to play strong right from the start and play smoothly in order to get the right to play the final match on the second day. As for our fans, I hope we can count on a full house. I want them to be our seventh player so that we will be even more motivated to chase for gold. I can only say: please come and share this volleyball party with us!”

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