Turkey may have lost the gold medal game to Serbia & Montenegro in the U20 category yesterday, but this evening a different story unfolded in Amaliada during the UMCOR U18 European Championship Men.
With a spot in the semi-finals at stake, Turkey came out with an inspired effort to upset Serbia & Montenegro 63-58.
|Turkey's players celebrated their win and semi-finals berth.|
“We were inspired by that. We got revenge and I am so happy for that.”
Turkey trailed 34-27 at halftime, but pulled ahead by outscoring Serbia & Montenegro 21-9 in the third quarter.
Every possession was important in the fourth quarter, and three-pointers by Sahan and Berklay Sahillioglu at the 5:25 and 4:47 mark gave Turkey a 55-51 lead.
Turkey was able to maintain their lead, but Serbia & Montenegro got within 59-56 with 55 seconds remaining following a basket from Stefan Markovic.
But Sahillioglu made four free throws over the final 24 seconds to ice the victory and secure Turkey’s place in the semi-finals.
|Turkish players offer an encouraging word to Serbia & Montenegro's Stefan Markovic following Turkey's win.|
“Now we are back in that position and can play in the semis again.”
Sahillioglu scored 14 points for Turkey, while Ismet Hacioglu added 15.
Turkey was looking less than spectacular following a lackluster win over Latvia in the preliminary round followed by two consecutive losses.
But they appear to have gelled at the right time, to the delight of coach Orhun Ene.
“I was expecting to make it this far, but after our start I wasn’t so sure,” he said.
“During the Bulgaria game, we started playing differently. We were hustling more and showed much greater strength.”
“I think because we didn’t have our whole team together during preparations due to injuries, we didn’t have chemistry.”
“We have shown good heart and courage to come back the way we did.”
|Berkay Sahillioglu came up with clutch free throws for Turkey.|
The loss was bitter for Serbia & Montenegro, which had looked unstoppable after winning their first four games by double figures.
Several players could be seen in tears following their defeat which relegated them to classification games.
Serbia & Montenegro coach Jovica Arsic offered harsh criticism of his team following the loss.
“We wanted to play for a medal, but we won’t be because we had very bad team chemistry,” he said.
“Some of my players don’t like each other and didn’t want to pass the ball to each other. This comes out in these types of games.”
“They are not winners and haven’t won in previous youth competitions. They have no psychological advantage. Turkey is more experienced and the experienced team won.”