February 12, 1980 |
|Nationality||Turkish / Albanian|
|Listed height||6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)|
|Listed weight||260 lb (118 kg)|
|College||Fort Scott CC (1999–2000)
Seminole State CC (2000–2001)
|NBA draft||2002 / Undrafted|
|2010–2011||Galatasaray Cafe Crown|
|2014–2015||Darüşşafaka & Doğuş|
|Career highlights and awards|
Ermal Kuqo (Turkish: Ermal Kurtoğlu; born February 12, 1980) is a retired Albanian professional basketball player who played the majority of his career for Anadolu Efes. Kuqo was a part of the Turkish national team from 2004 until 2010, but in the summer of 2010 got granted the wish to play for his birth country Albanian national team.
At the age of 15, Kuqo started his professional career with the club Fenerbahçe. He played college basketball at Fort Scott Community College in Fort Scott, Kansas and Seminole State College in Seminole, Oklahoma, United States. After junior college, Kuqo signed a Letter of Intent with Texas Tech University in the NCAA to play for the legendary Bobby Knight, but because of his previous European pro career, he got ruled ineligible. After that he decided to come back to Europe and continue his career with the famous dalmatian team KK Split (ex-Jugoplastika). After a frustrating season with the Žuti he finally had his breakout season with the Slovenian club KK Pivovarna Laško, averaging almost 13 ppg and 7 rpg in the Adriatic League. In the summer of 2003 Ermal signed a two-year contract with the Turkish powerhouse Efes Pilsen, coached by Oktay Mahmuti, where he had an immediate impact both in the Euroleague as well as in the Turkish domestic league, establishing himself as one of the premier players of the Turkish champions.
At the end of 2007-08 season Kuqo signed a two-year deal with Pamesa Valencia. He had a very up and down and inconsistent season, especially after Neven Spahija took over from Fotis Katsikaris in mid November. Most of the time coach Spahija preferred Kosta Perovic and Matt Nielsen playing together and was considering Kuqo to be a surplus to requirements. In late January he suffered a calf injury that put a stop to his playing time for at least a month, and that took Ermal out of the rotation. Even though he started the pre-season preparation with Valencia the next year, Kuqo and the team decided to part ways in early September and Kuqo after that signed a contract to come back to Efes Pilsen. But he came to the team late in October and found himself mainly sitting on the bench as Efes Pilsen's coach had plenty of centers to play with, among them Mario Kasun, Daniel Santiago, Kaya Peker, Bostjan Nachbar. After two very frustrating seasons, his old coach Oktay Mahmuti knocked on Ermal's door offering him a contract to play for Galatasaray Spor Kulubu, offer which Ermal immediately accepted.
Since early in his career, Kuqo has developed into a monster under the basket. Although he is a little bit undersized for the center position he makes up for it with his uncanny instincts and great fundamentals on the low block. He is also a serious threat from the three-point line that can surprise opponents. His back-to-the-basket game gets better and better every season with an array of different finishing techniques. He had a chance to show his best self playing for Galatasaray in 2010-2011 season where together with Preston Shumpert they led the team in scoring at 11 ppg and took their team to their first playoffs final since 1990 where they lost to a powerful Fenerbahce team 4-2. In June 2011, Ermal agreed to a two-year contract to play again for his former team Efes Pilsen.
In 2004 summer, facing a choice of national teams he selected Turkey, which gave him the opportunity to compete in the highest level competitions, such as EuroBasket and World Championships. After playing for the Turkish side in two European Championships and a World Championship, in 2010 he decided to ask FIBA to grant him permission to play for his native country of Albania. He led Albania in scoring in the summer of 2010 in FIBA's Division B games averaging 19 ppg. He represented Albanian national team for 4 years.
Kuqo's father Robert and uncle Artan are basketball idols in his home country Albania. Kuqo came to Turkey when he was 15. He gained Turkish citizenship in 1997 and because of Turkish laws had to change his last name to Kurtoğlu. He used his Turkish last name Kurtoğlu when he played in the Turkish league, but in the Euroleague and other European competitions he played as "Kuqo".
Ermal is married and he is fluent in Albanian, English, Italian, Turkish, Croatian and Spanish.
Awards and achievements
- Albanian Junior Championship Champion - '94
- Slovenian League All-Star Game -'03
- Turkish President Cup Winner - '05, '06,'09
- Turkish League Regular season Champion -'04, '05, '09
- Turkish League Champion - '04, '05
- Turkish League All-Stars Game - '05, '07, '08, '11*, '13; (*did not participate due to injury)
- Turkish Cup Winner - '06, '07
- Eurobasket.com All-Turkish League Center of the Year - '11
- Eurobasket.com All-Turkish League 1st Team - '11
- Eurobasket.com Turkish League All-Domestic Players Team - '11