Mert Akay wrote about why he went to Serbia and what happened during the process | EXCLUSIVE

As you know, my transfer process to KK Dynamic Beograd was concluded a few days ago. FIBA decided that I can continue my basketball career in Serbia if the training compensation is paid to Darüşşafaka.

First of all, I should state that this decision made me really happy and I am excited to start a new adventure for my individual development. As a 19-year-old player, I think that there are some matters that I should tell and you should know about.

I had received offers from several US universities before and I had not signed a contract with Darüşşafaka because going to NCAA was an option for me. At the end of the season I had three different alternatives:

1) Staying in Turkey and contiune to play with Darüşşafaka.

2) Going to US and joining an NCAA team.

3) Playing in Europe.

Since basketball was my priority on my career plans, I eliminated the US and NCAA option, which was previously on my agenda. After a long process of researching and thinking, I decided play in Serbia.

My decision was expressed by my family in a few meetings with the club but it was not accepted by the club executives. They said that I could leave only by paying training compensation, otherwise they wouldn’t let me leave. So, they knew that I was leaving before I went to Serbia. I even made a phone call to coach Selçuk Ernak a few days before I left and thanked him for everything he had done for me. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the members of the Darüşşafaka family for everything once more.

As I’ve stated above it was Darüşşafaka executives’ choice to carry this topic to FIBA since the very beginning. If my permit was issued by the club maybe I would’ve come back to Turkey one or two years later and play in Darüşşafaka as a better player. However, I guess this wasn’t an option for the club so they wanted to cut ties with me by receiving the compensation.

There is an important thing that I want everybody to understand: Money was never my priority. In the process, I never asked Darüşşafaka about how much I would earn nor did I get any feedback from them. As a 19-year-old player I have nothing to do with any kind of funny business.

I didn’t choose to earn more money by playing for Darüşşafaka and staying in Istanbul with my family. Instead, I chose to live alone and away from my family, earn less money to play more basketball. I wanted to be a part of a struggle, do something different and maybe be a pioneer. If my priority was to earn more money rather than improving myself first, I would’ve chosen the easier way.

I want to explain my reasons in detail for joining KK Dynamic Belgrade so that everyone can understand what I’m trying to be a pioneer for. I’m a foreign player of a team with many young players like me. Also the team is in a foreign country for me.

The competition level is very high and I will be the main point guard of a team like this and play 25-30 minutes per game. This idea is really exciting for me. I see the days that I’ll spend here as steps to my dream to be a main point guard of a EuroLeague team. I aim to be a real EuroLeague player rather than someone who is just a part of the rotation and plays only for few minutes.

In addition to the individual development process in game, I also wanted to improve myself as a person. One of the underlying reasons of my choice was my desire to challenge myself to grow mature and truly experience life.  As you know one of the main factors of being a good basketball player is being a mature person in your personal life and reflect this maturity to your game as much as possible. I believe that this experience will take my game and my individual development process even further.

KK Dynamic Belgrade is an amazing club. Their approach towards me, the roster they have, the importance they give to basketball player development and their perspective on basketball meet my every expectation out of a basketball club. One of the reasons for this decision was to work with Coach Miro Alilovic, who made a significant contribution to the European basketball and NBA basketball with many great players he raised. I also have to say that I could also choose to join a team that plays in ABA and be on the court for 10-15 minutes, just like what I had in Darüşşafaka. However, If I did that I would be in a contradiction with my decision. I need to say that this choice has never been on my agenda since I aimed to play more basketball and to be the main point guard since the very beginning.

KK Dynamic Belgrade is also in the Serbian Basketball League. Today, players such as Vasilije Micic and Stefan Jovic, who are among the most important guards of the EuroLeague, played in the Serbian Basketball League early in their career. These players, who got meaningful minutes and had important roles on the court, continued their individual development and made themselves ready for the next stage. I really want to go this way to become a EuroLeague player.

I am very happy to embark on a brand-new adventure that has caused significant changes in my life. I am also aware of the possible risks and challenges ahead. However, I thought that I had to act more realistically today so I can achieve my future dreams. Nowadays, I am excited to continue my game development by playing basketball and to have important life experiences as an individual.

Despite the things that happened during the process, I still see Darüşşafaka as my home.  I would like to thank all my coaches who have worked with me in the junior teams. I will continue to try contributing Turkish basketball as I have done since the beginning of my basketball career. I hope that this decision will be a pioneering act for all the young players after me who really want to play basketball.

Yours sincerely…



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