Turkish women secure spot in 2016 FIBA Olympic qualifiers

Turkish women secure spot in 2016 FIBA Olympic qualifiers

Turkish women secure spot in 2016 FIBA Olympic qualifiers

CİHAN photo

Turkey’s Women’s National Team defeated Russia 68-66 in overtime on June 27 in Buda-pest to finish EuroBasket Women 2015 in fifth place and secure a spot in the 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament. 

The qualifying tournament will take place next summer at a location to be determined. 

“I congratulate the Women’s National Team and Head Coach Ekrem Memnun on this great accomplishment,” Turkish Basketball Federation President Harun Erdenay said. “Our goal is to return to the Olympics, and with this impressive win that goal is very much within reach.” 

Russia led by nine points in the second quarter, but Turkey battled back to force over-time. Russia jumped out to an early lead in the extra session, but Olcay Çakır’s three-pointer with 44 seconds remaining tied the game at 66-66. With seconds remaining in overtime, Işıl Alben cut to the basket and finished with a lay-up to give Turkey a 68-66 win in thrilling fashion. 

“First of all, I congratulate my players for the character that they showed,” Memnun said after the game. “We were trying to create a new team. We started at the beginning, and we improved throughout the tournament.”

Lara Sanders was dominant for Turkey in the paint. She finished with a game-high 28 points and 13 rebounds. Nevriye Yılmaz had 15 points and 7 rebounds. Last-second hero Alben finished with 11 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists.

“One of our goals from the beginning was to go to the Olympics,” point guard Ayşe Çora said. “We pulled it together after a tough loss. We’re very happy to have won this game.”

Turkey opened EuroBasket Women 2015 in Oradea, Romania, in Group B, where it fin-ished in second place with a 3-1 record. In the second group stage Turkey finished in first place, earning wins over Montenegro, France and the Czech Republic. On June 24 Turkey faced Serbia in the quarterfinals, falling 75-63. Memnun’s squad rebounded with a 66-57 win over Lithuania on June 25, which set up the game with Russia for the fourth and final European spot in the 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Women. 

Alben was key for Turkey throughout EuroBasket, averaging 9.8 points, a team-high 5.5 assists, and a team-high 2.5 steals. She posted double-doubles in wins over Czech Republic and Lithuania. Sanders was Turkey’s leading scorer (16.7) and rebounder (8.4) in the tour-nament.

Turkey will return to the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament for the second consecutive Olympic cycle. In 2012 the senior women’s national team went 3-0 at the qualifying tour-nament, held in Ankara, and earned a spot in its first ever Olympic Games. Turkey finished the London Games in fifth place.