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In a league of his own

Rockets rookie will be first Turkish NBA player

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Posted: Friday June 26, 1998 04:33 PM

  Coming to America: Turkcan played for Efes Pilsen in the Turkish league before being selected by the Rockets (AP)

HOUSTON (AP) -- Turkish basketball star Mirsad Turkcan is getting a taste of life in the NBA and likes it already.

"I'm very happy to be in Houston," Turkcan said Friday, making his first appearance in Houston after being selected one of the Rockets' three first-round choices in this week's NBA draft.

"Orlando, Indiana and Seattle also contacted me, but I thank God I am in Houston," he told reporters. "I am ready for hard work, the NBA life and everything that goes with it."

The 6-foot-8 Turkcan, 22, is the first Turkish player to get a chance to play in the NBA. He had been playing for Turkey's Istanbul-based Efes Pilsen team.

"The people in my country are very excited," he said. "This morning, seven or eight television stations called to talk to me and today I am on the front page of the paper. I am so happy."

He said he was familiar with Houston stars Charles Barkley and Hakeem Olajuwon.

"This is a very big player," he said of Barkley. "I've heard of Charles and they say he's a good guy and so is Hakeem. He may be my favorite player."

Turkcan said he would be heading to New York for a few days, then head back home to Turkey before returning to Texas for the Rockets' training camp.

"I know the NBA is a tougher league, but I have played in Europe in the top league and I feel sure when I come back I can contribute to the success of the Rockets," he said.  

Related information
Rockets take Drew, Dickerson, Turkcan in first round
Rockets 1998 Draft Team Page
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