Russia, Turkey Aim To Finish EuroBasket On High Note

20 September 2009
By David Hein

Pride is at stake in the game for seventh place at EuroBasket 2009 as Russia face off against Turkey in their final game as reigning champions without a chance to reach next summer's FIBA World Championship.

Russia lost against Croatia in the 5th to 8th place games and with it their last qualification opportunity for the 2010 Worlds, which will be hosted by Turkey, who did not need to worry about qualifying.

Bogdan Tanjevic's Turkish side could not come up with a full effort against France and now play for seventh place in a tournament where the hopes and expectations were much, much higher.

Head-to-head: Russia have won both pervious match-ups, beating Turkey 102-93 in Group B of the 1995 European Championship and then two years later 87-56 in Group A of the 1997 European Championship.

Last time out: Turkey started strong but did not have the energy to finish in losing to France 80-68 in the 5th to 8th place games. Russia wasted a 10-point first half lead in falling 76-69 to Croatia to miss a chance to qualify for the 2010 World Championship.

Key Match-up: Omer Asik v Timofey Mozgov.  Both 23-year-old centers have played an integral role in their teams' push to the quarter-finals. Asik has scored in double figures six times for Turkey while Mozgov has gone for 10 points or more five times. With Asik having more help in the post - with backups such as Semih Erden and Ogus Savas - the Turks may look to force Mozgov into foul trouble early to take Russia's second-leading scorer out of the game. 

X-Factor: Pride. Both teams want to finish their tournament on a high note after hoping for more than playing for seventh place. Whichever team wants this game more after a long tournament will likely come up the winner.

Stats: 75.8 and 69.5.  Turkey is the fifth highest scoring team to get past the Preliminary Round with 75.8 points while Russia is last with 69.5 points. Russia will have to find a way to score points against Turkey, who will want to push the tempo.

Sounding off: "I sure want to see us go out the same way we came in - with our heads up and our butts down close to the ground on defense. We cannot give up because we are representing something bigger than ourselves. But Turkey will do the same thing. It will be a very competitive game." -Russia Coach David Blatt

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