Turkey's women one win away from London
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
American center Quanitra Hollingsworth has quickly fit in with her teammates on the Turkish national women’s basketball team after being granted Turkish citizenship.AA photo
After winning both of its matches in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament, the Turkish national women’s basketball team now stands just one win away from playing in the Olympics.
Turkey beat Japan 65-49 in the tournament played in Ankara, just a day after beating Puerto Rico 65-53. With two wins in as many games, Turkey won the three-team Group A, and advanced to the quarterfinals, which will be played tomorrow.
Turkey will play against the runner-up of the Group B, which was to be decided after the Argentina vs. Czech Republic game. The game was still in progress as the Hürriyet Daily News went to print, with the loser of the game set to place as runner-up, while the winner leads the group.
If Turkey can get a victory in the quarterfinals, it will win a berth in next month’s Summer Olympic Games in London.
Last month, the Turkish national women’s volleyball team became the first Turkish team to qualify for the Olympics in 52 years. Now the women’s basketball team is just one win away from joining their compatriots on their way to London.
“I don’t want to disrespect anyone, but it looks like women’s teams are outclassing men’s teams in Turkey,” a half-joking veteran center Nevriye Yılmaz said to NTV Spor yesterday.
Yılmaz is in top form, leading Turkey with 16 points against Japan on Tuesday. Esmeral Tunçluer added 15 points, while American center Quanitra Hollingsworth, who is making her competitive debut for Turkey after being granted citizenship, added 10 points.
After taking a 16-8 lead in the first quarter, Turkey never looked back against Japan, and led by as many as 20 points during the game.
“We were prepared for their style of play,” Yılmaz said. “We knew that they play at a high tempo, but we were ready for that and we played almost faster than them.”
Despite the high expectations, Turkey coach Ceyhun Yıldızoğlu said the job is not done.
“Everyone on the team wants to play in the Olympic Games very much,” Yıldızoğlu told Anatolia news agency. “But we still have one game to go, and it will not be an easy game. I hope we win this game.”
Young player Begüm Dalgalar also said the team was highly motivated for the quarterfinal.
“We took the game starting from the first minute and defended very well,” Dalgalar said. “We want to make it to the Olympic Games by winning again on Friday.”
Apart from the four quarterfinal winners, a fifth team will qualify for the Olympics after the quarterfinal losers start another round.