Turkey faces tough France test at Eurobasket
France's Tony Parker (L) vies with Israel's Bar Timor (L) during the group A qualification basketball match between France and Israel at the EuroBasket 2015 in Montpellier on September 10, 2015. AFP PhotoA tough test awaits Turkey on Sept. 12 at Eurobasket 2015 when it takes on title favorite France, led by all-time Eurobasket top scorer Tony Parker, for a quarterfinal berth.
The “12 Giant Men” finished Group B fourth after a 111-102 victory in overtime against Iceland on Sept. 10 to set up the Round of 16 clash with France in Lille.
Wins by Spain and Serbia earlier in the day had guaranteed Turkey’s fourth-place finish in the group and a spot in the Round of 16.
Ali Muhammed (Bobby Dixon) led the way for Turkey with a game-high 28 points and 11 rebounds, while Cedi Osman chipped in 22 points. Ersan İlyasvoa had 19 points, while Semih Erden delivered 18 points in the win as Turkey shot an impressive 49 percent from the field.
Jakob Sigurdarson led Iceland with 22 points.
Boasting several household NBA names in its roster, France will rely on inspirational San Antonio Spurs guard Parker, who became the European championship’s all-time leading scorer during the group stage.
The 33-year old livewire, who has won four NBA titles with the Spurs, surpassed former Greece stalwart Nicos Galis as France edged Poland 69-66.
France, along with Greece and Serbia, finished the group stage, played in four different countries for the first time, with a 5-0 record.
Especially impressive were the Serbians, who brushed aside all their rivals in Berlin including heavyweights Spain and Italy to set up a meeting with Finland on Sept. 13.
Wary of the fact that their good form will mean nothing if they slip up against the battling Finns, Serbian playmaker Milos Teodosic ruled out complacency.
“We must forget what we achieved in Berlin because we are now at stage with no room for error,” he told reporters after Sept. 10’s 101-82 rout of Italy.
“It’s win or go home so we have to be totally focused and keep up the momentum.”
The Greeks clinched the group in Zagreb on the back of a thrilling 72-70 win over host Croatia and booked a meeting with Belgium on Sept. 12.
In Latvia’s capital Riga, Lithuania finished on top with a 4-1 record to earn a clash with Georgia.
Former winner Spain, crowned in 2009 and 2011 before taking the bronze medal in 2013, faces an uphill battle to continue its podium streak.
Missing three NBA-based players and long-serving Barcelona guard Juan Carlos Navarro, the Spaniards were soundly beaten by Serbia and Italy before scraping through with a last-gasp 77-76 win over Germany.
Spain faces an unpredictable Poland with Chicago Bulls center Pau Gasol carrying the bulk of the country’s hopes of winning a fifth successive medal.
In other Round of 16 encounters, Croatia faces the Czech Republic, Italy plays Israel and Slovenia meet Latvia in the opening game on Sept. 12.
The top two qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro while the next five enter three intercontinental qualifying tournaments next July for an extra three berths.