Serbia Top Hosts, Turkey Boss Croatia

15 August 2008

Serbia didn't turn out as polite guests after beating the local team of Italy 70-62 on the closing game of day one in Group A.

With this win Serbia takes the first place in the group together with Czech Republic while Italy starts the championships at 0-1.

Djordje Drenovac (Serbia)
Djordje Drenovac led Serbia with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Djordje Drenovac led Serbia with 17 points and ten rebounds, while Luka Igrutinovic added 16 points.

Nunzio Sabbatino was the top scorer of Italy with 14, nine of them scored in the second quarter. Giovanni Pini followed with 11.

Serbia outrebound Italy 50-31 to cover for a big number of turnovers.

"The rebound was the factor that made the difference for us," concluded the Serbia Head Coach, Dragan Vascanin.

"To play the first game, especially against the home team, usually means a lot of pressure, but I think we managed to move the pressure on the Italian team and that made a big difference."

Serbia dominated the game from the first quarter.

Italy's tough defense brought them back in the game before half time, but after the break Serbia once again took control and cruised for the win.

Serbia used Igrutinovic and Drenovac to take their biggest lead of the game so far with a 22-13 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The local squad came back ready for the second quarter, paving their way back to the game with aggressive defense.

Serbia committed one turnover after another, to reach a total of 11 already at half time.

Italy used it to tie the game after nine points in a row as Sabbatino started to gather points.

Igrutinovic hit another long range bomb to give Serbia the lead again, while Italy missed a couple of lay ups that could have given them the advantage.

Four points in a row from the line finally put Italy up by a single point, but Serbia scored the last four points of the half to hold a 33-30 lead at the break.

"No team can play the same level for 40 minutes, and we managed to recover from the bad minutes we had in the second quarter to win the game," commented Vascanin.

Italy stayed close for six more minutes, but when Igrutinovic scored his first bucket of the half and Drenovac got his rhythm going Serbia climbed to 56-43.

The locals tried to use the push of the fans to put the Serbian win in danger but couldn't limit Serbia's rebounds on the way to an eight point loss.

Serbia will take on the Czech Republic tomorrow as Italy will face Greece.

Turkey Crush Croatia

Turkey made a big statement today with a smashing 83-63 victory over Croatia, one of the favorite teams coming in the competition.

The win lifts Turkey to a 1-0 record tied with Latvia, while Croatia joins Poland with a 0-1 record at the bottom of Group C.

Ernes Kanter finished the game with an expected monster double-double of 25 and 15 rebounds. He was followed by Kevin Kaspar with 19 and Safak Edge who had 17.

Boris Barac scored most of his points already in the first half but still was the top scorer of Croatia with 12 along with Stefan Zadravec. Marko Ramljak added 10.

Kanter started his points collecting early as Turkey took a 10-6 lead but Barac answered in time as the first quarter finished with a one point difference for Turkey, 15-14.

The teams stayed close until the Turkish point guard Edge stepped up.

With an assist followed by two nets he pulled his team up to a nine point difference, 37-28, before the break separated the teams by eight.

Turkey found the way to limit Barac and Kanter reached his double-double already during the third, but Croatia held on to the single-digit gap with their nails.

With the help of the bench players Turkey finally entered the deciding period with a 56-46 lead, but that was only the tip of the show.

Kanter and Kasper led an 8-0 run to make it an 18 point game.

The Turkish train continued their ride with Kanter leading his gang to a 75-50 difference inside the five minutes of the game, and make the outcome unambiguous.

Croatia will battle Latvia tomorrow as Turkey will fight Poland.

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