By David Hein
Belarus completed their return from the dead to not only advance to the 2009 EuroBasket Women Quarter-Finals but finish in third place of their Qualification Round Group F with an 86-70 victory over Turkey.
Four players scored in double figures for the 2007 bronze medalists Belarus, who hit 46 percent from three-point range and out-rebounded Turkey 42-28.
Belarus came into the game needing a victory by seven points or they would be packing their bags. But their win by 16 points means that Anatoli Buyalski's team finished third place in the Qualification Round Group F with a 2-3 record for a quarters date with Slovakia - instead of facing off with Group E winners Spain.
"We are very glad that we won, especially that we won by that much. We needed the score difference," said Natallia Marchanka, who had five points, six assists and three steals despite playing with a mask she borrowed from Italian point guard Chiara Pastore after suffering a broken nose on Sunday against Lithuania.
"We came from nothing to third place. Hopefully we continue to play as confident as today," added Marchanka.
Katsiaryna Snytsina led the way for Belarus with 19 points while Tatyana Troina scored 13 points and Nataliya Trafimava had 12.
Anastasiya Verameyenka added 12 points, five rebounds and four blocks while Yelena Leuchanka had seven points and eight rebounds.
"Everything is ahead of us. I hope it's not our last victory. Most important today was the defense. We stopped their guards," added Buyalksi, whose team won their last two games after a three-game losing streak.
Turkey also finished 2-3 in the group after two straight losses but will head home because of point difference.
Nevin Kristen Nevlin had 20 points and Birsel Vardarli added 15 points, but it was not enough for Ceyhun Yildizoglu's team, which made 6 of 22 from long range.
Belarus came out on fire from long range with Trafimava's triple opening an early 5-0 lead. Marchanka and Marina Kress knocked back-to-back three-pointers. And Trafimava nailed another three-ball and the Belarus lead was 23-14 with three minutes left in the first.
Sariye Gokce converted a three-point play as the Turks trimmed the margin to 27-21 after one period.
Turkey failed to convert on their first three possessions of the second period and Leuchanka twice was fed the ball inside, giving Belarus a 10-point gap.
Vardarli's two three-balls and two inside lay-ins by Nevlin trimmed the deficit to 38-33.
Verameyenka hit a jumper and blocked a shot and then Snytsina nailed a long ball and Belarus were back ahead 43-33.
The lead was 45-37 at intermission.
Troina drained back-to-back triples as Belarus's bulge grew 12 points - 53-41 early in the third quarter. Turkey chipped away at the deficit and got it down to 57-53 on Tugba Palazoglu's steal and break away lay-up.
Snytsina however responded with scores on three straight possessions including another three-pointer and she hit again at the end of the third quarter to make it an 11-point lead.
But Nevlin's basket just before the buzzer had Turkey trailing 67-58 going into the fourth.
The Belarus defense buckled down and held Turkey scoreless for the first four minutes of the final period until Sariye Gokce's lay-up made it 70-60.
Troina and Verameyenka both scored twice and then Yuliya Dureika's triple pushed the margin to 16 points - 81-65.
Vardarli's triple would cut Belarus's lead to 81-70. But Verameyenka and Trafimava scored and Dureika's foul shot with 2.5 seconds left meant Belarus would avoid Spain in the quarter-finals.