Turkey eyes Portugal win to grab EuroBasket ticket
The loss against Italy came as a shock to Turkey, which has won three and lost three of its six games in the qualification campaign.The Turkish national basketball team hopes to extend its chances of qualifying for the 2013 European Basketball Championships to the last game when the team travels to Portugal for a game on Sept. 8.
Having blown an 18-point advantage in the first half to lose 83-82 to Group F leader Italy on Sept. 5 in Kayseri, a victory against Portugal is the only way for Turkey to advance forward before facing off against the Czech Republic Sept. 11 with a home court advantage.
Luckily, history will be on the visitors’ side. The two sides have played each other twice in the past with Turkey winning both games, one with 122 points and the other with 23.
The loss against Italy came as a shock to Turkey, which has won three and lost three of its six games in the qualification campaign.
Pressure on coach, players
Coach Bogdan Tanjevic established a renewed squad for the campaign that does not include guard Kerem Tunçeri and forward Hidayet Türkoğlu, both fairly experienced players. The team’s poor run so far has put a pressure on the coach with criticism focused on the players and Tanjevic’s ability to handle the pressure at the end of the games.
“This defeat was a punishment of our errors in the second half,” Tanjevic told reporters after the Italy game “We were under pressure, but they were not and that’s another advantage for them. Now, we have to win the next two games.”
The road to Slovenia is a tough albeit straightforward one for Turkey. If Turkey wins both of its remaining games, against Portugal on Sept. 8 and the Czech Republic on Sept. 11, it will qualify either as a runner-up in the group or as one of the four best third-place teams.
If Turkey defeats Portugal and beats the Czech Republic in the last game with a deficit larger than 18 points, it finishes second and the Czechs take a qualifying third place.If it wins against Portugal and then beats the Czechs but by less than 18 points, Turkey still qualifies in third spot.
If Turkey loses to either Portugal or the Czechs, then it finishes with four wins and four losses and will have to wait to see how third-place teams in the rest of the groups finish.
Spain, France, Russia, Macedonia, Lithuania, Greece, Slovenia and Great Britain already secured their places in the 24-team event after last year’s EuroBasket.
Several other teams have booked their spots by clinching top-two finishes. Montenegro, Italy, Croatia, Ukraine, Poland, Finland, Bosnia Herzegovina, the Czech Republic and Germany gained entry to the finals, leaving seven places up for grabs.