Turkey keen to protect perfect record
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News | 9/15/2009 12:00:00 AM |
After beating Serbia in a nerve-racking game, Turkey now rolls on to the Slovenia game to continue its unbeaten streak at the EuroBasket 2009. The 12 Giant Men seek a win over Slovenia to clinch the top spot for Group F
Turkey looks to remain unbeaten and place first in Group F when it takes on Slovenia in EuroBasket 2009 on Wednesday.
The 12 Giant Men maintained their stunning form and won their fifth consecutive game in the European Basketball Championship on Monday, when they defeated Serbia 69-64 in overtime.
The win helped Turkey maintain its perfect record in the championship, and guaranteed a spot in the top two of the qualifying group.
Turkey had to overcome a nerve-racking overtime period to see off the Serbian challenge on Monday. The Giants could have finished the job early if it was not for a big Serbian run in the last minutes of regular time.
Turkey still had the final shot in the game with 3.4 seconds left in play, but guard Kerem Tunçeri missed his clutch-time shot. Hidayet “Hedo” Türkoğlu tipped the rebound, but the basket was ruled out as the Toronto Raptors forward contacted the ball after the buzzer.
It was 5-0 for Turkey in the overtime, an extraordinarily low-scoring period for any basketball game.
Center Semih Erden converted one of his two free throws a minute into the overtime period and there were no baskets in the following three minutes. Ersan İlyasova’s two-pointer and Tunçeri’s final free throws sealed the game for Turkey.
Barcelona forward İlyasova was the star player of the game with a double-double. He had 22 points and 11 rebounds for Turkey.
Fenerbahçe Ülker center Ömer Aşık was the only other Turkish player in double figures, attaining 11 points and six rebounds for the red and white team.
Serbia’s high-scorer was Milos Teodosic with 16 points.
Efes Pilsen guard Ender Arslan added that the score of the game was understandably low.
"At this stage only an extraordinary team can score 90 points," said Arslan to the NTV television channel. "Scoring around 60 should be expected now. Every team is defending hard."
Turkish star Hedo Türkoğlu did not make a serious impact on the offense end with four points, but he passed the ball well and dished out five assists, also putting on a tough display on the defensive end. Hedo, who has been suffering from an injured knee, had an off night with a stunningly low 1-for-14 field goal in the game.
However, Türkoğlu’s commitment was praised by assistant manager Orhun Ene.
“Hidayet is our leader, he keeps the team together even if he is not playing at his best,” said the former Turkish point guard. “He can turn things around while not playing well. He can change things in the game.”
Guard Sinan Güler said that Turkey did not play at its best, but the challenge brought victory.
"We battled hard, even if we did not play that well," he said.
Center Semih Erden agreed that it was a tough game.
“We shed too much sweat, but you cannot win games without battling,” he said. “Our opponents were tough and it is great to beat them. There were some problems throughout the game but we played hard and won.”
Turkey is now one of only two unbeaten teams in the EuroBasket 2009 along with France. If Turkey wins its group, it will meet the fourth team of Group E.
Either Russia or Croatia is likely to finish in the group’s fourth spot, whereas Turkey still needs a win over second-spot Slovenia to win the group.
Slovenia is one of the title contenders of the championship, and Turkey’s performance against Jure Zdovc’s team will be crucial to show its real potential. With Erazem Lorbek and Primoz Brezec shutting out the painted area and point guard Jaka Lakovic in red hot form with his long-range shooting, Slovenia is an all-round team.
Semih Erden acknowledged that the next game against Slovenia will be a hard one as well.
"It will be a hard game, we know it," he said. "We take every game as it comes. We want to take the top spot of the group, so we want to beat Slovenia.”