Photo: Claus Quast

heinnews’s David Hein was at the NBBL All-Star Game at the Beko BBL All-Star show in Ludwigsburg and caught up with NBBL North Team star Ismet Akpinar. Hein and the 16-year-old point guard talked about playing with both the third division ProB Rist Wedel and the U19 NBBL club Piraten Hamburg at 16 years of age after winning the MVP of the U16 JBBL last season; how disappointing it is that Hamburg doesn’t have a top level basketball team; playing last summer at the U16 European Championship; and his expectations for the up-coming Albert Schweitzer Tournament and U18 European Championship.

heinnews: Ismet, we are here at the NBBL All-Star Game. It is a U19 event and you do not turn 17 until May. How do you feel being here?
Akpinar: Of course it’s an honor. It’s a sign that the hard work is paying off.  And I am happy to be at this kind of event, especially being from a younger age group.

heinnews: What expectations did you have coming into the NBBL season after winning the JBBL MVP last season?
Akpinar:  My personal expectations are pretty high. I hope I can continue what I did in the JBBL in the NBBL. My goal is to finish the season as Rookie of the Year. And we definitely want to reach the playoffs.

heinnews: You were born in Hamburg, which does not have a first division basketball club. How disappointing is that for you?
Akpinar: Of course if you look into the future you don’t see a lot of perspective.  Eventually you will have to leave Hamburg. It’s disappointing that a big city like Hamburg does not have a BBL team. We are working on that, and hopefully in the future Hamburg will have a BBL team.

heinnews: What about the football club Hamburg SV working on getting a basketball team similar to Bayern Munich?
Akpinar: Yeah, that would be great. I am playing for the ProB club. Maybe there are some perspectives there. Maybe we can get them to reach the BBL in a few years. Don’t know if Hamburg SV wants to invest the money in basketball.

heinnews: Last summer, you played at the U16 European Championships. What was that experience like for you?
Akpinar: Yeah, it was my first European championship. We went into the tournament with high expectations after playing some great tournaments beforehand. Then we had a disappointing eighth place. We thought we could do a lot better. Still it was a great tournament individually also. It was a great experience.

heinnews: In April, there is the Albert Schweitzer Tournament in Mannheim. How much are you looking forward to that event?
Akpinar: It’s a super experience to play against nations like the U.S., Australia, Croatia and other European top teams. I can play against the top teams in the world and the best players even though they are a year old. There is no better way to get better.

heinnews:  How do you feel going into the tournament?
Akpinar: I don’t really know about the international level at the 1994 age group. I just want to play my game and do my thing. I don’t want to shy away from the big names like the U.S. I just want to play how I usually do and do my best.

heinnews: Another player at this tournament and another talent from the 1995 generation is David Taylor. What do you think of him as a player and guy?
Akpinar: David is a super player. He proved that with all the other games with the 1995 age group. We are battling a little bit but friendly as well. Character-wise, he’s a great guy.

heinnews: This summer is the U18 European Championship in Lithuania and Latvia. What is the goal there?
Akpinar: We have some high goals. In Spain (at the U16s) we had our first experience with this team. It went really well. It’s still early to say how we will do at the U18s. We just want to do our best.

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