By David Hein
A balanced attack led Slovenia to a 66-51 victory over Turkey in Group F of the 2007 EuroBasket and helped the Slovenians remain undefeated at 3-0 in Spain.
Uros Slokar provided a huge spark off the bench with 12 points in 19 minutes as Slovenia went on a 21-1 surge spanning the third and fourth quarters for a comfortable victory.
Radoslav Nesterovic led Slovenia with 13 points while Goran Dragic added 11 points, four rebounds and three assists and Jaka Lakovic chipped in five points, seven rebounds and three assists.
"In the first half, both teams made a lot of mistakes. In the second half we stepped on it and started to play better defense. Congratulations to my players. The next games are Germany and Lithuania and we can play with less pressure," said Slovenia coach Ales Pipan.
"I guess we've given something to the people back home in Slovenia to party about tonight."
"It’s not really about my three-point shots. I think without the defense on their main guys we wouldn’t have done that. I was just lucky that I was there at the right time and I made them and it helped my team," said the game-winner Slokar.
"I just stepped up and hit the three-pointers, but most importantly, that allowed us to get back into some rhythm. And it all started working again."
The Turks dropped to 0-3 in the group despite 17 points from Hidayet Turkoglu and 14 from Mehmet Okur. But Bogdan Tanjevic's side made just four-of-25 three-pointers (16%) and nine-of-16 foul shots.
|Okur had a night to forget|
going 5 for 16 from the field
"They played better than us and won. We have to just look forward, put this loss behind us and win as much as we can," said Turkoglu, who also grabbed eight rebounds.
"It was a good game, a close game, but Slokar came off the bench and made some big three-pointers and it changed the whole game."
Neither team really could stamp their authority on the game in the first quarter, which ended with Slovenia ahead 20-15.
Their lead was up to 10 points, 27-17, on Slokar's free-throw midway through the second quarter. But Turkey finally turned up their game and reeled off a 12-4 run to close the first half to trail by just two, 31-29, at the break
Turkoglu evened things up at 33-33 with a breakaway dunk in the early stages of the third period and Bogdan Tanjevic's troops soon found themselves ahead 39-36.
But Slokar gave the Slovenians a spark off the bench, dishing out an assist, hitting two three-pointers and grabbing an offensive rebound as Ales Pipan's men went on a 10-0 spurt and led 46-40 after three periods.
They continued their push in the fourth quarter, going on an 11-0 run to take a 57-40 lead with just over four minutes left. All told, Slovenia outscored Turkey 21-1 over the late third quarter and the start of the final frame and didn't allow their opponents to score in the period until Turkoglu's free-throw with 4:08 remaining.
The NBA star did score six straight points and Engin Atsur drained a three-pointer to trim the margin to 59-49. But Turkey would get no closer the rest of the way.
Turkey are all but eliminated and face Italy on Monday. The Slovenians can move to 4-0 in Group F when they take on Germany later Monday in Madrid.