Sometimes a new look can make a big difference.
With top players Baris Hersek and Dogus Balbay sitting on the bench to start the game, Turkey jumped out to a 21-9 lead and never looked back to defeat Bulgaria 78-60 in quarter-final round play.
Turkey had been playing sluggishly, having lost two straight, and Turkish coach Orhun Ene opted to go with a new look to start the contest.
“Both Balbay and Hersek had been injured and weren’t with us during our entire preparations,” explained Ene.
|Turkey held Chavdar Kostov, the competition's top scorer, to 13 points.|
“We thought that it would be best to start a team that would bring more energy and I think this decision succeeded.”
Ogon Sevinc got Turkey off to a fast start, scoring 12 of his team-high 15 points in the games’ opening minutes.
Hersek made a big contribution off the bench, scoring 13 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
His lay-up in the opening moments of the second quarter increased Turkey’s lead to 33-14.
Bulgaria answered with a 10-0 run to cut the deficit to nine and went into halftime trailing 45-32.
Turkey seized control of the game in the third quarter by outscoring Bulgaria 22-14. They would maintain their double-digit advantage until the final buzzer.
The other key to Turkey’s win was the team defensive effort against Bulgaria’s sharpshooter Chevdar Kostov, who entered play averaging over 32 points per game.
Kostov was held to just 13 points on 4-of-11 shooting overall from the field.
“He is a good player and we knew to stop him we needed a team effort against him,” said Ene.
“Everytime he had the ball we sent several players at him.”
The win was Turkey’s first in the quarter-final round. They will play Serbia & Montenegro tomorrow in a pivotal game with semi-final round implications.