Young Turks claim another European title in basketball
DHA PhotoHost Turkey beat Serbia 85-68 to win the U-18 European Basketball Championship on Aug. 3 in the Central Anatolian province of Konya.
Okben Ulubay collected 15 points, five rebounds, four assists and three blocks for the champions, while Tolga Geçim led all scorers with 18 points.
The victory in Konya followed Turkey’s U-20 European Championship victory over Spain last month.
On Aug. 3, Egemen Güven, who poured in 12 points in the final, was named the most valuable player of the tournament.
Güven and most of his fellow teammates were part of the same group that won the U-16 European Championship in 2012 and the U-18 European Championship last year.
“Winning the MVP is nice but most important is winning the gold medal. And we played like a team,” said Güven.
Turkey defended its gold medal while also claiming their sixth U-18 medal to go along with 2004 and 2005 silvers and bronze in 2009 and 2011. It had been 26 years since a team defended their U-18 European Championship title and four years since a host nation won the crown in front of their home fans.
Güven led the Turks in scoring with 13.8 points per game, in addition to 6.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocked shots while shooting 61 percent from the field.
His top game probably came against Spain in which he collected 21 points, 18 rebounds and five blocks, though he had 28 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks against Montenegro as well.
In the gold medal game against Serbia, Güven made all five of his shots from the field and two-of-three free throws for 12 points to go with two rebounds and three blocks.
But coach Ömer Uğurata acknowledged that it was a team effort that brought the title to Turkey.
“The championship came when all 12 players left their egos aside and leave their priorities to do something for the team,” said Uğurata, who will lead the team to the World Championship in Greece next year. “This is a great honor.”
Stefan Peno scored 13 points for Serbia and Radovan Djokovic scored 10 while Stefan Lazarevic was held to nine points.
Serbia started by drawing three quick Turkish fouls within the first 1:25 minutes. But Turkey was better offensively in the early going in pulling ahead 14-3 on Ulubay’s triple halfway through the first quarter.
After Ulubay drained another long ball, Furkan Korkmaz came off the bench and joined the long-ball barrage as Turkey pushed the lead to 23-7 eight minutes into the game. Serbia closed the gap to 25-11 after one quarter.
Serbia worked hard defensively to keep the Turks from scoring and were able to put a further dent in the lead with a Nikola Pavlovic layup and a Danilo Ostojic three-point play to pull the Serbs to within 25-16.
But Ayberk Olmaz scored Turkey’s first basket of the second quarter and Geçim nailed another Turkish triple for a 34-18 lead – and another Serbia timeout at the 6:13 minute mark of the second quarter.
The Serbs completely shut down the Turks after that point, giving up just two free throws as Turkey missed their final 10 shots of the first half, allowing Serbia to chop significantly into the deficit, trailing 36-28 at the break following the 10-0 run.
After the break, Serbia cut the Turkey lead to 45-37, but Turkey used the home crowd support to go on a 17-4 surge for a 62-41 lead late in the third quarter. Serbia would not get closer than 12 points the rest of the way.
Turkey collected 13 fast-break points to seven for Serbia and 21 points off turnovers compared to just seven for the Serbs. Turkey also committed just 11 turnovers while nailing 10 of 23 three-pointers (44 percent) to just 3-of-16 (19 percent) for the Serbs.