Turkey defeats Greece in Crete bronze game
HERAKLION, CreteTurkey defeated Greece 80-71 on June 5 to win the bronze medal at the FIBA U-19 World Championship, held in Crete, as the United States clinched the title.
Turkey’s trip to the podium marks its best ever result in the tournament.
Shooting guard Furkan Korkmaz was dominant, pouring in a game-high 28 points, including 4 three-pointers. He also added 8 rebounds and 5 steals. Egemen Güven had 16 points and 8 rebounds in the victory.
“I congratulate Head Coach Ömer Uğurata, his staff, and all the national team players on this historic accomplishment,” Turkish Basketball Federation President Harun Erdenay said. “This is a fantastic day for Turkish basketball, and these young athletes have made their country proud yet again.”
Greece took a 5-point lead in the first quarter, but Turkey tied the game 16-16 after 10 minutes of play. Turkey continued its strong play in the second quarter and took a 36-31 lead into halftime. In the third quarter Turkey came out on fire, and an 8-0 run gave Uğurata’s squad a 56-44 lead that it never relinquished.
“Whatever we wanted, the kids executed exactly that on the court,” Uğurata said. “We won, and we’re really happy.”
Turkey was particularly effective on defense, forcing 17 turnovers while committing only 6 turnovers of its own.
“We’re one of the three best teams in the world. This was a very special tournament for me,” point guard Berk Uğurlu said after the game.
Turkey entered the bronze-medal game on the heels of a loss to Croatia in the semifinals and finished the tournament with a 6-1 record. Korkmaz finished the tournament as the team’s leading scorer, averaging 13.7 points per game. He was named to the all-tournament team in recognition of his impressive performance, becoming the first Turk selected for such an honor at a FIBA U-19 World Championship.
Güven averaged 10.3 points and 5.6 rebounds in Crete.
Turkey’s best prior finish at the championship came in 2007 when the team finished seventh. The U-19 National Team entered the tournament after winning back-to-back U-18 European Championships in 2013 and 2014.
In the final game on June 5, the United States beat Croatia 79-71 in overtime, become the first team to win the U-19 division back-to-back since 1983, when it was again the U.S. that accomplished the feat.
Jalen Brunson carried his team to victory with 14 points, seven assists and zero turnovers in 40 minutes of play.