Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang gets Arsenal back to winning ways against AFC Bournemouth

Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates scoring their second goal against AFC Bournemouth. (Action Images via Reuters)
Updated 25 November 2018
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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang gets Arsenal back to winning ways against AFC Bournemouth

BOURNEMOUTH: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang extended Arsenal’s unbeaten run to 17 matches with the goal that sealed a 2-1 win at Bournemouth on Sunday.
Unai Emery’s side took the lead through Jefferson Lerma’s bizarre own goal before Josh King equalized on the stroke of half-time at Dean Court.
Aubameyang netted his eighth league goal of the season midway through the second half to lift the fifth placed Gunners within a point of the top four in the battle to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
The club has been revitalized since Emery replaced Arsene Wenger in the close-season and this was another test passed by the Spaniard.
After three successive home draws against Liverpool, Sporting Lisbon and Wolves, it was essential Arsenal got back to winning ways.
Emery left German playmaker Mesut Ozil on the bench and was without French striker Alexandre Lacazette due to a groin injury.
But Arsenal were still strong enough to consign Bournemouth to a third successive defeat as Emery’s decision to switch to a back three for the first time paid dividends.
Bournemouth thought they were ahead early on, but David Brooks was flagged offside as he slotted home King’s through ball.
Arsenal went up the other end and Lucas Torreira rattled the foot of the post with a fierce shot, with Alex Iwobi only able to lash the rebound high and wide.
Arsenal took the lead in the 30th minute when Lerma accidently volleyed Sead Kolasinac’s cross past Bournemouth goalkeeper Asmir Begovic as he stretched in a failed attempt to clear.
Iwobi drew a smart stop out of Begovic as the visitors looked to double their advantage before the break, but instead their run of not leading at half-time this season continued.
When Aubameyang spurned a good chance after Henrikh Mkhitaryan had rolled in his team-mate, Arsenal fans began to call for the introduction of Ozil.
But the supporters who made the trip to the south coast were celebrating the lead in the 67th minute.
Aubameyang made amends for his earlier miss, sliding in to score from six yards after another Kolasinac cross.
Ryan Fraser shot straight into the arms of Bernd Leno as Bournemouth chased a second equalizer.
Lerma almost atoned for his own goal but struck a post with his low drive before Leno had to be alert to push the ball behind after it looped toward goal off the foot of Sokratis.


Interview: Turkish NBA star Enes Kanter on standing up to ‘ruthless’ Erdogan

Updated 23 May 2019
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Interview: Turkish NBA star Enes Kanter on standing up to ‘ruthless’ Erdogan

  • ‘I have an obligation to speak against atrocities,’ basketball star tells Arab News
  • ‘Whatever I am going through in my personal life doesn’t impact my performance on court’

CHICAGO: NBA superstar Enes Kanter says he loves his homeland Turkey as much as he loves professional basketball. 

Yet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has continuously attacked Kanter, who plays for the Portland Trail Blazers.

Erdogan has arrested Kanter’s father, and bullied his family after accusing the basketball player of being part of the Hizmet movement of exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, who the president asserts was behind a failed coup attempt in 2016.

Two years ago this week, Erdogan demanded that Kanter be arrested, and fears of violence from the Turkish state have gotten so bad that the FBI installed a panic button to help protect the player.

Kanter said he will continue to play professional basketball, and will not be silent about the Turkish government’s repression.

“His (Erdogan’s) regime’s and his hostility to me began in 2013 when I first start criticizing (the) government on unjust, unfair and illegal closures of college preparatory centers linked to businesspeople in the Hizmet movement,” Kanter said.

 “This closure pretty much became the first public clash between the Erdogan regime and the Hizmet movement,” he added.

“It was obvious that there was something that Erdogan doesn’t like about the Hizmet movement. Up until the closures of college preparatory centers, no one knew about that,” Kanter said.

“The way Erdogan handled this relationship was brutal, ruthless, unjust and unfair. I can’t stand for any of these, so I stood up against this tyranny and started criticizing. Neither Erdogan stopped his approach nor I, and we’ve kept clashing since then.”

Kanter said he will continue to play professional basketball, and will not be silent about the Turkish government’s repression. (AFP)

Kanter played for the Turkish national team at EuroBasket 2011 in Lithuania, and for the Turkish U18 national team in 2009.

He led Turkey to the bronze medal at the European Championships in France, and was named Best Player and Best Center at the 2009 European Championships by Eurobasket.com. 

Kanter signed with the Utah Jazz in 2011, the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2015, the New York Knicks in 2017, and the Portland Trail Blazers in February this year.

The Trail Blazers lost the Western Division Playoffs, the first step to the NBA Championships, to California’s Golden State Warriors in the final game on Monday.

Erdogan’s threats have placed enormous pressure on Kanter, but he insists it has not impacted his performance or his commitment to help the people of Turkey.

“I’m a successful professional athlete, and whatever I’m going through in my private life would never impact my performance on court,” he said.

“They’re two different worlds for me … I’ve known nothing else but basketball … since I was 13, so I guess it’s pretty important,” he added.

“I see basketball and my platform as a way to teach the younger generation how to be successful and hopeful for the future,” Kanter said.

“Once you’re a successful professional athlete, younger generations see you as a role model, so … I’m trying to do my best to set my life as a role model to them,” he added.

“I believe I have an obligation as a human being to speak up against any atrocities. I believe that as a human being I should be standing for human rights, democracy and freedom of speech … Me being a celebrity makes it easier for people to hear, see and experience what I believe.”

I believe I have an obligation as a human being to speak up against any atrocities.

Enes Kanter, Portland Trail Blazers center

On Erdogan, Kanter does not mince words. “He’s a dictator by definition. He silences media, destroys opposition, demonizes his critics … so all these make him a dictator,” Kanter said.

“Turkey deserves a leader who’s open minded, democratic, progressive, intelligent, modest and forward thinking, a leader who embraces everybody in the community regardless of their political choices.”

The harassment from Erdogan has put Kanter’s family at risk too. “I can’t say they’re safe when my dad lost his job and got jailed based on terrorism charges because I’m his son,” Kanter said. “These allegations are baseless and ridiculous, so how could I feel they’re safe?”

He said he respects Gulen and the Hizmet movement, rejecting Erdogan’s claims against them.

“I’m so close to Mr. Fethullah Gulen in terms of his life philosophy and teachings. I admire his way of extracting an individual’s inner potential … in order to be a better person in his or her community,” Kanter said.

“Erdogan should know that he’ll be brought to justice one day and pay for his mistakes. First, he should stop all his unjust, inhumane acts against the people of Turkey. Second, he should start making everybody’s life better in Turkey.”

Before moving to the US in 2009 to attend college in California, Kanter was a star basketball player in Turkey’s premier leagues.

He said despite playing for the NBA in the US, he still sees himself as a champion for Turkey and its people.

“I was Turkey’s best basketball player, and I’m still Turkey’s best basketball player. The only difference is that I’m now representing my country in the US. I left Turkey for a better opportunity in my career, to play in the NBA,” he added.

“I think everyone in society has an obligation to speak out on issues of human rights and democracy, and to stand tall against atrocities, inhumane practices and dictatorships,” Kanter said.

Celebrities like himself “have a bigger opportunity to make a difference and to raise awareness on such issues because of our platforms,” he added.

Erdogan has continuously attacked Kanter, who plays for the Portland Trail Blazers. (AFP)