Turks get historic victory over Czechs
The Turkish national basketball team players celebrate after beating Czech Republic 61-57 in a Group A match at the London 2012 Olympic Games. AFP photo
The Turkish national women’s basketball team beat the Czech Republic 61-57 yesterday to claim its second victory in a row at the Olympic Games.
Turkey climbed to the second spot in Group A behind leader China with two wins in as many games. Defending champion and heavy gold-medal favorite the United States was scheduled to meet Angola in a game later yesterday.
The Czech Republic, Croatia and Angola remained without wins.
Yesterday, Turkey made a commanding start to the game. After leading the first quarter 13-8, a dominant second quarter saw the difference go up to 12 points, as Turkey led the first half 33-21.
The Czechs cut the gap to six points in the third period and to four (57-53) with only two minutes left in the game. However, Turkey controlled the later stages of the game and got its second win of the games.
Nevriye Yılmaz, Tuğba Palazoğlu and Bahar Yılmaz each scored 11 points to lead Turkey in scoring, while Jana Vesela’s game-high 19 points were not enough for the Czechs to win.
Birsel Vardarlı added four rebounds and four assists to lead Turkey in both categories.
The win was Turkey’s first-ever victory over the Czechs in a competitive game.
“I am very happy with the victory, [and] to have ended a drought against the Czechs,” Vardarlı told state-run TRT after the game.
The Turkish guard added that the Czech players had a size advantage over Turkey, but the team overcame the problem with its defense strategy.
“Because we are a shorter team than them, we [made] a more aggressive defense, to make up for that disadvantage,” she explained. “That helped us to steal some balls and hurt them on their offense.”
Point guard Işıl Alben echoed Vardarlı’s sentiments that the victory was the result of a well-planned strategy.
“We analyzed them very well, and that showed on the court,” Alben said. “It was a great defensive performance.”
Turkey will meet the United States in its third game tomorrow.