Turkish Basketball Federation
The Turkish Basketball Federation (Turkish: Türkiye Basketbol Federasyonu, TBF) is the governing body of basketball in Turkey. Formed in 1959, it is based in Istanbul. The TBF is a member of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and the Union of European Leagues of Basketball (ULEB). The current president of the federation is Turgay Demirel.
It organizes three basketball leagues for men’s basketball and two for women’s basketball. Furthermore, each year TBF organizes one championship for men’s and women’s basketball, in addition to the annual Turkish President’s Cup.
According to official records, basketball made its debut in the Ottoman Empire in 1904 in the Dodge Gymnasium of Robert College in Istanbul. Shortly thereafter a teacher, Ahmet Robenson, introduced the game at the prestigious Galatasaray Lycee, and in 1911 he organized Istanbul’s first ever basketball game. Robenson’s students competed against each other, but the game went unfinished because of player injuries.
According to some sources Fenerbahçe Sports Club established a basketball branch in 1913, but serious and sustained efforts to build a basketball program did not begin until 1919. The opening of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in Istanbul in 1920 gave another boost to basketball in Istanbul and led to the first organized match in Turkish history. On April 4, 1921 a team of Americans defeated a team of Turks 18–14 on the grounds of the Cağaoğlu Teacher’s School.
The 1920s saw the construction of Istanbul’s first basketball courts in neighborhoods such as Bebek, Üsküdar, Balmumcu and Beykoz. The sport also won over students at high schools across the city.
The establishment of Turkey’s first sports governing body, the Union of Turkish Training Associations (Türkiye Idman Cemiyetleri İrrifakı), in 1923 paved the way for a more organized and professional approach to sports in Turkey. Though the TICI did not initially recognize basketball, in the following years clubs like Kurtuluş, Beyoğluspor, Barkhoba, Maccabi, Protkeba, İtalyan Kartal, and Galatasary began to compete against each other.
The Istanbul Basketball Championship was first organized in 1927 and was dominated by teams affiliated with Turkey’s religious minority communities.
In 1933 the Galatasaray, Beşiktaş, Fenerbahçe, İstanbulspor and Hilal clubs established an alternative league that came under the official direction of the Turkish Sport Association (Türk Spor Kurumu), at which point basketball began to spread beyond the city limits of Istanbul. Galatasaray rose to dominance, winning three consecutive Istanbul championships from 1934–1936.
The Turkish Basketball Federation
The official activities of the Basketball Federation began in 1934 under the umbrella of the newly founded Sporting Games Federation (Spor Oyunları Federasyonu), with Prof. Süreyya Genca serving as its first president. Originally grouped with volleyball and handball, as a result of basketball’s rising popularity the Turkish Basketball Federation (TBF) was established as a separate institution on March 1, 1951. The late Turgut Atakol, a legend of Turkish sports who played a critical role in the founding of TBF, became the federation’s first president. For the following 33 years the presidency was an appointed position, but following the resignation of the late Osman Solakoğlu in 1992, the Minister of State for Sports organized a semi-official election based on the votes of Turkish basketball clubs. Turgay Demirel won that election and became the first elected president of TBF.
1992 marked a turning point for TBF. Reforms regarding athlete contracts, league organization, national team activities, officiating, sponsors, international relations and, eventually, autonomy for TBF transformed Turkish basketball. Turkey began achieving impressive results in international club competition, with Turkish teams winning one European Championship, in addition to reaching three finals, three semi-finals, and five quarterfinals.
On May 15, 2004 the 59th government of the Republic of Turkey took the first steps towards granting autonomy to TBF. During its first general assembly in Ankara on January 5, 2005 TBF formally established its autonomy and Turgay Demirel was elected the first president of the Autonomous Turkish Basketball Federation (Özerk Türkiye Basketbol Federasyonu).
The Turkish national team played its first match against Greece on June 24, 1936. It participated in the 1936 Berlin Olympics two months later with players from Galatasaray, Robert Kolej, Kurtuluş, Istanbulspor and Barkhoba, but exited in the tournament’s preliminary round following a 33-23 loss to Egypt. From that point on, with the exception of brief interludes, Turkey has participated in international competitions, though it long failed to score any major successes outside of regional play.
This began to change in the early 1990s. In 1993 Turkey returned to the European Championship finals after a twelve-year absence and has not missed a single European Championship final since. At the 1997 European Championship finals in Spain, Turkey’s National Men’s Team finished eighth, its best result in 24 years. In the 1999 European Championship in France Turkey once again finished in the top eight.
Turkey’s ascent has continued in the twenty-first century. At the 2001 European Championship it finished second, its best ever result. Turkey competed at the inaugural FIBA World Championship in the United States in 2002 and finished sixth at the 2006 tournament in Japan. At the 2010 FIBA World Championship, the largest sporting event ever hosted on Turkish soil, the national team won silver, falling in the finals to the United States.
Today Turkey’s national team is ranked 7th in FIBA’s international standings.
Among European countries Turkey is third only to France and Spain in terms of player representation in the National Basketball Association (NBA).
The Turkish Women’s National Team played its first game against Germany in 1964. The team was reconstituted after a twenty-year hiatus in 1987 and won silver at the Mediterranean Games in Syria the same year. In 2005 the Women’s National Team made its debut in the European Championship finals and won silver in the 2011 European Championships. In 2012 Turkey’s women made their Olympic debut in London and finished fifth. In 2013 it won bronze at EuroBasket Women in France.
The team is presently ranked 13th in FIBA’s international rankings, having risen from a prior ranking of 21st.
Hosting International competitions
From 1934–1992 Turkey hosted only one European Championship (1959). In recent years, however, Turkey has become a prominent host for international basketball competitions. Turkey has hosted or been awarded the right to host all major international basketball competitions including the 2010 FIBA Men’s World Championship, the 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women, the 2012 Euroleague Women’s Final 8, the 2012 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final 4, the 2005 Women’s EuroBasket, and the 2001 Men’s EuroBasket.
- Sporting Games Federation
- Süreyya Genca (1934–1938)
- Kerim Bükey (1938–1945)
- Vedat Abut (1945-1949)
- Faik Gökay (1949-1958)
- Turgut Atakol (1958–1959)
- Turkish Basketball Federation
- Turgut Atakol (1959–1964)
- Faik Gökay (1964–1967)
- Feridun V. Koray (1967–1968)
- Osman Solakoğlu (1968–1977)
- Uğur Erel (1978–1979)
- Gencay Şaylan (1979–1979)
- Osman Solakoğlu (1979–1992)
- Turgay Demirel (1992–2005)
- Autonomous Turkish Basketball Federation
- Turgay Demirel (2005–Present)
- Men’s leagues
- TBL Men's Basketball 1st League:: 16 teams
- TB2L Men's Basketball 2nd League (2 groups)
- Group A: 16 teams
- Group B: 16 teams
- EBBL Men's Basketball Regional League (2 groups)
- Women’s leagues
- TKBL (formerly TBBL) Women's Basketball 1st League: 12 teams
- TKB2L (formerly BB2L) Women's Basketball 2nd League (4 groups)
- Group A, B, C and D: 9 teams in each group.
- Turkish Basketball Federation official website (Turkish)
- Turkish Basketball League official website (Turkish)