Undefeated Turkey faces Serbia in quarterfinals
AA PhotoThe Turkish women’s national basketball team will play Serbia in the 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women quarterfinals tonight at Ülker Sports Arena, hoping to continue its perfect record on its home court.
Turkey heads into the game after finishing first in Group B with wins against France, Canada, and Mozambique, while Serbia qualified for the quarterfinals with an 86-79 win over Cuba in the elimination round Oct. 1.
Turkey last faced Serbia in the bronze medal game of EuroBasket Women 2013, where Turkey claimed a 92-71 victory to earn its second consecutive EuroBasket medal. The team won the silver medal at the competition in 2011.
“Our goal was to finish first in the group, and our players achieved it,” Turkish Basketball Federation (TBF) President Turgay Demirel said. “Hopefully we will compete against our opponent in the quarterfinal the same way and move on to the semifinal.”
Turkey opened the FIBA World Championship for Women with a thrilling 50-48 come-from-behind win over defending EuroBasket Women and Olympic silver medalist France. Trailing by 10 points at halftime, Turkey came storming back in the final 20 minutes, and point guard Işıl Alben’s three-pointer with 47 seconds gave Turkey a two-point lead. It proved to be the game-winning basket.
The national team followed its win over France with a 55-44 victory over Canada on Sunday night in front of another packed house. Point guard Birsel Vardarlı Demirmen scored all 7 of her points in the fourth quarter, and Lara Sanders finished with 18 points and 6 rebounds. The win over Canada secured Turkey’s place atop Group B and in the quarterfinals.
“For six years we have always been aiming for the top, and we’ve acted accordingly,” Senior Women’s National Team Head Coach Ceyhun Yıldızoğlu said. “We will always continue to fight.”
In the final group game against Mozambique on Sept. 30, Turkey finished off the tournament’s first stage with a 64-54 win.
“Against Mozambique with everyone in place, we played more comfortably and showcased our style of basketball on the court,” forward Tuğba Palazoğlu said.
Throughout the group stage Sanders was a strong presence in the paint at both ends of the court for Turkey, averaging team highs in points (11.3), rebounds (5.7), and blocks (2.7). Vardarlı Demirmen has averaged 4.5 assists per game, seventh best in the tournament overall.
Sanders and Tuğçe Canıtez rank second and third with 2.7 and 2.5, respectively, for blocks per game in the tournament.
In other quarterfinal games at the Ülker Sports Arena, Australia and Canada will meet at 2 p.m., Spain will take on China at 4:15 p.m. and tournament favorite USA will play France at 9:15 p.m.
Tickets for the tournament are available on biletix.com.