Turkey Do Double Duty

21.08.2008

Turkey is in the top four of the Termosteps U16 European Championship Men after a heroic battle against Russia in Group F of the Qualifying Round.

The Turks made a big comeback in the fourth quarter to write a 67-55 win, enough to finish on top of Group F with a 4-1 record.

The win also means that the team to join Turkey will be France, also with a 4-1 record.

Russia, the third team to finish with four wins, finished third in the tie-breaker and will play the 5-8 games.

The team from Moscow could have afforded an eight point loss and still qualified, but couldn't connect in the closing minutes and will settle for the less glamour games.

Enes Kanter led Turkey with 24 points and 15 rebounds while Safak Edge led Turkey with 20 points, 14 of them in the second half.

Russia saw 20 points from Dmitry Kulagin, but he scored 16 of them in the second quarter.

Turkey entered the game knowing they must win by at least seven points to make it to the semi-finals.

They found themselves down by already ten early in the second half, but slowly made their way back and reached their needed margin only with a little over three minutes on the game clock.

Edge and Kanter combined in the second half for 29 out of Turkey's 40 to make the difference.

"I want to congratulate my players for a great effort," said Mustafa Derin, Head Coach of the Turkish team.

"They worked very hard to make it.

"Kanter deserves a lot of good words because he played recently also the U18 championship and it's very tiring to play two competitions in one summer, but he's still doing a great job for us."

Kanter and Kevin Kaspar were the dominating power of Turkey in the first quarter which finished with the teams tied at 14-14.

Kulagin stepped up once the teams were back and took the game on his shoulders.

He scored no less than 16 points from the field without missing any of his six attempts, from long and close distance.

That was enough to carry seven unanswered points on the way to a 31-27 lead at the break.

Another seven points in a row for Russia made it a ten point game early in the second half, and in total Turkey was down by 17.

"My players were very tired, also from the game yesterday against France," shared Coach Derin.

"I let them rest and asked them to play tougher defense on Kulagin and get back to their game on offense."

That worked well as after five minutes it was already a one point game after yet another and-one play by Kanter.

Edge knocked a huge three ball from long distance on a 9-2 Turkish run that put them on top 52-46, but Russia didn't rest yet.

Only with 3:41 on the game clock Edge, once again, hit a crazy three pointer to finally give Turkey the needed difference, 59-52.

Kanter with another and-one play and Edge with his third deciding three pointer set the difference on 11 already, before almost two minutes with no points.

Kulagin hit just one from the line to make it a ten point game with 40 seconds to play, and keep Russia still in the picture but an open miss from the corner by Viktor Zaryazhko allowed Turkey, and France with them, to celebrate.

"The French coach is a good friend of mine, so in the last seconds we were fighting also for them," discovered Coach Derin.

That fighting spirit will follow Turkey to the semi-finals on Saturday night.

Turkey will take on the surprising Cinderella from Prague while Russia will face Serbia eyeing the fifth spot.


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