Medal hopes fade away in basketball
Turkish guard Nilay Kartaltepe reacts at the end of the women’s quarter final basketball match Turkey vs Russia at the London 2012 Olympic Games on August 7, 2012 at the basketball arena in London. Russia won 66-63. AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON
Turkey’s first ever Olympic appearance in women’s basketball came to a dramatic end on Aug. 7 after a 66-63 defeat.
The defeat deprived Turkey of a chance to play for medals, while Russia advanced to the semifinals where it will meet France, who overcame Czech Republic 71-68.
The rematch of last year’s EuroBasket final went Russia’s way again when a three-point attempt by Turkey’s Birsel Vardarlı bounced off the rim as time expired.
Turkey’s women were one of the surprise teams in the preliminary rounds, posting a 4-1 record with their only loss coming against the powerhouse U.S. team.
“I think today was a really equal game,” said Russia coach Boris Sokolovskiy, whose team had a 3-2 record in qualifying. “I think we were luckier. I’ve seen Turkey progress a lot.”
The teams entered the fourth quarter tied at 51-51 and the game came down to a close struggle over the final seconds.
Russia’s American-born point guard Becky Hammon drove through Turkey’s defense for a lay-up that snapped a 62-62 tie with 14 seconds left.
Quanitra Hollingsworth missed one of two free throws to leave Russia with a one-point lead. Hollingsworth then lost a rebound out of bounds and that led to Turkey committing two fouls and Russia making two free throws for a 66-63 lead.
With 10.5 seconds left, Turkey had a chance to stay alive with a three-pointer, and Vardarlı, who had made 2-of-3 from beyond the arc, got a good look but failed to sink it.
“If we would have won, we would have had a good chance of a medal. That is how important this game was,” said Turkey coach Ceyhun Yıldızoğlu.
“Our goal is to make the Turkish people proud of us. I believe in the future we will do really great things in the Olympics.”
Shot statistics backed up how tight the game was with Russia making 25-of-60 shots and seven three-pointers while Turkey was 24-of-59 with six three-pointers.
Russia will face France in tonight’s semifinals, was led by neutralized Russian citizen Hammon, who scored 19 points.
Nevriye Yilmaz was Turkey’s top scorer with 22 points.
Compiled from AP and Reuters reports by the Daily News staff