Ismet Akpinar is a 17 year old 182cm point guard from Hamberg that recently completed his first season in the Pro B for SC Rist Wedel. He played 24 games averaging 5,9ppg, 1,5rpg and 2,3apg. He started his basketball career for : BC Hamburg Tigers junior team in 2009 and last year played for the Oberliga team. Last summer, he took part at the European Championships U16 in Czech Republic -11: 9 games: 13.4ppg, 3.2rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 43.1%, 3PT: 28.6%, FT: 63.9%He recently spoke to German Hoops about his season with SC Rist Wedel.
Many PRO B teams have 3-4 Americans but SC Rist Wedel only had two Americans. What made the team so special?
We were one team ans we did all together as a team. Nobody had egos and nobody played for stats. We won our games playing defense and that was one of the reasons why we made the playoffs.
How was the adjustment coming from the Oberliga to the PRO B?
It was a big jump, but my goal wasn´t to sit on the bench, but give gas from the start and always have energy and just do my thing.
You averaged 18,7 minutes per game. Would you have thought before the season that you would get so many minutes?
No I never would have thought that. I had to fight for every minute that I got. I am proud that my coach gave me so confidence in my play. The most important thing is to get playing time so I can keep improving.
What is the most important thing that you need to improve on your game now?
My decision making. It has to be quicker and better decisions. My shooting and penetration can be more stable.
What is a strength in your game that doesn´t always get noticed right away?
My will and want to win games in crunch time. I always give 120-150% in clutch situations.
How is your relationship to coach Ozhan Gurel?
We have a very good relationship and it has been open from the start. I have known him many years and we just understand each other very well.
Your teammate Augie Johnston said that most players your age don´t have the right attitude and already think that they know everything. You always want to learn. Where does your positive attitude come from?
I have always had that attitude and it came from my parents and my big brother who plays in Turkey. My brother always wanted to get better so I felt the same way. I always want to be better and train as hard as I can to get better.
You are very self critical. Is that the difference between being a good and very good player?
Yes, I always need to work on my game. I am never good enough. The most important thing is to be consistent at a good level.
Augie Johnston said your game is similar to Jeremy Lin. How much did that flatter you?
It flattered me a lot when I read it at eurobasket. Lin is a great player.
How has the Linsanity effected you?
It has been amazing how he has risen. He scored 20 points and then hit 30 points on Kobe Bryant. If he continues to be consistent then he could become my favorite player.
In the playoff game against Nordlingen where you won the game with a buzzer beater, you looked like a Kobe Bryant taking a two step pull up fade away jumper. Don´t you feel pressure in these moments as a 16 year old?
I love these moments and always want the ball in my hand. I am just happy to have the ball in my hands. Some guys may be afraid to get the ball thinking that all will be mad if the shot is missed. I don´t think about what can happen, but just about making the shot and believing in myself.
How many floaters do you practice per day?
I love floaters. In the past, I worked more on them than now. Now I am concentrating more on my pull up jumper.
If you could ask Jeremy Linn one question what would you ask him?
How he was able to so quickly be successful in the NBA. I also would ask him how he handles all the hype.
How important has Fabian Bocke been for the team?
He is a giant under the basket. The lane might be free and you might think that you can shoot, but then all of a sudden, he is there and blocks the shot or changes the shot. You always have to be thinking what will I do when Bocke comes. I like playing on his team in practice. His mid range jumper is like a lay up.
Who would win a 1-1 you or Augie Johnston?
Augie would win. He is a great shooter with great touch. He plays good defense and rebounds well and is just an allrounder.
What was your childhood like?
It was nice. I grew up in Hamburg an din the summers we always visited my family in Turkey.
Who were your NBA idols as a kid?
My big brother and Tracy Mcgrady in his prime.
Who was your favorite German player.
Without a doubt Dirk Nowitzki.
How did you start playing basketball?
I started with 8 years. At that time, I had the choice between basketball and soccer. I always wanted to become a professional athlete. My big brother played a huge role. I saw what he did and wanted to follow him.
You started your basketball career at BC Hamburg. What was the most important thing that you learned in this time there?
I learned the basics of the game. I had three coaches and Andreas Nierhaus really showed me how to build up my game.
How much do you miss a Beko BBL team in Hamburg?
I miss it a lot. It is so sad that there is no team. There are so many potential good players, but if you are better than the PRO B, you have to leave Hamburg.
How tough is it combining, school, basketball and friends?
It is hard to combine all. I train twice a day and have away games as well. I do have a private life and spend time with friends. I just know what my principles are and basketball is #1.
What was your nicest memory of the European championships 2012 in the Czech Republic where Germany had an 8th place?
Just playing at a top level and knowing you are at a tournament where you can become European champion. We won 4 games in a row and the emotions were amazing. The feeling to have played there was great.
Which player do you remember the most from the 2012 European championship?
The Spanish center who is 215cm. He blocked everything.
David Taylor is another very talented German form the year 1995. What do you like most about his game?
His speed. He is so fast from 0-100. When he gets a rebound, he uses the open court so well and already has scored a lay up before the defense can get back.
What were the most free throws that you made in a row?
Your most crazy shot in a game?
A half court bank shot with my back turned.
What are your hobbies?
Relaxing, sleeping and play station.
If you could play for a Beko BBL team where would you like to play?
I would want to play for a team where I play. I would like to play for Alba Berlin.
Your favorite German point guard?
Heiko Schaffartzik and Per Guenter.
Your favorite international point guard?
Juan Carlos Navarro.
What was the last DVD movie that you saw?
Ziemlich beste freunde.
Thanks Ismet for the chat.