Scottie Wilbekin faced a lot of backlash after allegedly refusing to join the Turkish NT in the Olympic Olympic Pre-Qualifiers. The naturalized guard gave his view of the facts and referred to the discussion he had with Ergin Ataman.

Credit: Nikola Krstic/MB Media/Getty Images
Credit Nikola Krstic/MB Media/Getty Images

Scottie Wilbekin has been sanctioned with a 5-game suspension by the Turkish Basketball Federation due to his absence from the Turkish National Team this past summer.

Scottie Wilbekin

Scottie  Wilbekin
Team: Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul
Position: SG
Age: 30
Height: 188 cm
Weight: 80 kg
Birth place: United States of America

Several days after asking both the Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul guard and also Anadolu Efes' Shane Larkin, who are both American but hold Turkish passports, to defend their decision not to represent Turkey in the FIBA Olympic Pre-Qualifiers, the TBF issued a 90,000 Turkish Lira fine (~3,140€) in addition to the game suspension.

Turkey lost to Croatia in the final of the tournament in Istanbul and lost all chances to go to the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. Larkin represented Turkey in the EuroBasket 2022, while Wilbekin played in the FIBA World Cup 2019.

Fenerbahce GM Derya Yannier clarified that Scottie Wilbekin's situation paralleled that of Shane Larkin.

"We, as a club, issued a statement in this matter. We had been in communication with authorities during the summer when this decision was made. We've sought arbitration, and we expect a decision within the week. We hope for a reversal of this decision as we believe the clubs had already administered their own penalties," the Turkish executive told the media

Before Turkey played the Pre-Qualifiers, coach Ergin Ataman accused Wilbekin of refusing to join the national team, "despite all the calls we made to him and his club."

"There's nothing we can do, we can't force anyone and tell them 'Come, play for the national team'. Five weeks ago, we announced the preliminary roster and informed all clubs about that. We also tried to reach the players, but if the player does not pick up the phone, there's nothing you can do. In this case, you notify their club and you wait," the coach of Panathinaikos Athens said. 

Wilbekin had the chance to catch up with Ataman while the two were in Rhodes for the Nick Galis International tournament on September 16-17. Speaking to S Sport, Wilbekin revealed what he and Ataman discussed.

"We talked about his statements about me, which were not true," the player said. "I wanted to solve this face-to-face. If you make any public comments about my character, I won't like it. But in the end, we agreed to disagree. If I am healthy and they call me, I would like to play in the national team," he clarified. 

Wilbekin also explained the events regarding the national team, stressing that he was available at all times.

"I was talking to the people in the national team. Everyone who looked for me, managed to reach me. Every time my phone rang, I answered it. I told them my plan. I needed rehab," the 30-year-old guard argued. 

"What happened after that got out of control. Now there is a process that we object to. It's an unfortunate situation for both parties. There is a negative mindset for both me and Shane. It is not good for Turkey or for us," Wilbekin concluded. 

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