Turkey faces off against Greece at EuroBasket
ISTANBULTurkey plays Greece at the EuroBasket Women 2017 in Prague on June 22, hoping to grab a place in the semifinals.
The Turkish women advanced to the quarterfinals after winning all three group games, while Greece needed a 62-58 victory against Russia on June 20 after losing two games in its group.
U.S.-born Turkish center Quanitra Hollingsworth has so far been the driving force of Turkey’s success, leading her side with 15.7 points and 11.3 rebounds per game, despite playing only 24.2 minutes per game.
She has received support from experienced guard Işıl Alben, who led Turkey with 4.3 assists and 2 steals per game.
Another key player for Turkey as the team eyes a spot in next year’s Women’s Basketball World Cup will be Bahar Çağlar.
After posting some underwhelming preparation results, the outlook has sounded much more positive since Turkey finished unbeaten as Group B winner.
In those victories, Çağlar played almost 28 minutes per game and demonstrated how she is a player transformed.
At risk of falling into the shadows during her lengthy career at Galatasaray, the versatile small forward opted to move across Istanbul last summer to Yakın Doğu Üniversitesi.
“It was a very difficult decision for me to leave Galatasaray because I was there for many years,” she told EuroBasket’s official website. “But I think the results and the trophies I have won at Yakın Doğu prove that I made the right choice and I was so happy with a great club season.”
Çaglar, who has averaged 5.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per game so far at the tournament, is also now adding leadership to her repertoire with Turkey.
A vital link between the experienced backcourt of Birsel Vardarlı Demirmen and Alben, as well as the power in the paint of Hollingsworth, the forward is someone Turkey’s array of young guns are starting to look up to.
“This new generation is always learning more and more with each game, but this is the same for all players,” said Çağlar.
“I like to help the team to develop as much as it can, especially during this important stage of the tournament and I think we have to make sure that as some players change, we keep the chemistry strong,” she added.
Mental toughness is also going to be a factor for Çaglar and her colleagues as they try to block out the agonizing buzzer-beater against Spain, which denied them a semi-final berth in the Rio Olympics.
“I feel bad and get upset about it when I even hear any question about it,” admitted Çağlar.
“We want to recover mentally from what happened to us and the best way is to get the result we want in this quarterfinal. At the very least we want to get to the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup next year,” she added.
Turkey’s game against Greece will tip off at 4 p.m. Turkish time and will be broadcast live by NTV Spor.