by Yarone Arbel
A positive start for Turkey in the Qualifying Round with a 77-60 win over Turkey in Group F of the U16 European Championship at Sports Hall Topolica in Bar, Montenegro on Monday afternoon.
Turkey climbs to a 2-1 record in the group and send Bulgaria lower in the standings with a 1-2 balance before their games on the next day.
The Turks will take on Spain while Bulgaria face a tough hurdle with a game against the local team Montenegro.
Burak Haciismail scored 20 and added six rebounds for his team, Ismail Gulmez had 14 and Kenan Sipahi scored 12.
In Bulgaria it was Nikolay Stoyanov with 17, Deyan Karamfilov had 13 points and 10 assists, Denislav Vutev had 13 of his own and Aleksander Vezenkov finished with 10.
Bulgaria didn't enjoy the feel of leading the score even for one second, and tried to chase after Turkey for 40 minutes, but didn't have the tools to crack down the intensive Turkish defense and turned the ball over 19 times.
"It wasn't easy to bounce back after two losses in a row, especially against Bulgaria who's a team that always change defense and force you to stay focused all the game," said the Turkish coach Erhan Toker.
"I'm not 100% happy with the way we played, but it was a better than before and we will take this championship step by step.
"We were very close to be eliminated, but now we want to advance to the quarter-finals and then we'll have to be ready for that game and see how we'll make it to the more advanced stages."
Karamfilov kept Bulgaria in the picture and set the score on 10-9 after five minutes, but Haciismail was effective around the rim, and with six points led his team on an 8-0 run to open the first gap of the game, 18-9.
The Bulgarian guard and Denis Titov reacted in time and Bulgaria finished the first quarter just six points behind, 22-16 in favor of Turkey.
The first minutes of the second quarter gave an answer just how much Turkey is willing to let Bulgaria move close.
Haciismail with another bucket and Ismail Gulmez with five individual points wrote a 9-0 run and made it a double-digit gap game, 31-16.
Bulgaria collected points from here and there, and a three pointer to beat the shot clock by Vezenkov cut the margin back to single-digits, 37-29 right before the break, but the final word was spoken by Haciismail who grabbed an offensive rebounds and scored the put back to make it 39-29 at the break.
The gap remain stable in the first minutes after the break, until Gulmez hit five in a row again and created a 54-39 distance between the two sides.
Sipahi stepped up with transition points and when Tayfun Erülkü hit twice in a row from the arc Turkey held a 64-42, their maximum margin in the game.
From that point on it was just a matter of difference, as Bulgaria still made an effort and eventually lost by 17.