Late Free Throws Save Turkey, Punish Latvia
Volkan Incekara and Melih Mahmutoglu combined for five foul shots in the final 23 seconds to give Turkey a 71-68 victory over Latvia to remain undefeated at the U18 European Championship for Men.
Mahmutoglu scored 15 points and Incekara added 13 while Enes Kanter collected 18 points and 11 rebounds in leading Turkey to a 2-0 record in Group D.
Latvia missed three free throws in the final 29 seconds and hit just 9-of-19 for the game, losing despite 14 points from Girt Celms, 12 from Kristers Zeidaks and 10 points from Lauris Blaus. Varis Krumins fell to 0-2 in the group.
The game was even at 7-7 early before Turkey took advantage of some poor Latvian offensive execution in reeling off a 10-0 run for a 17-7 lead. Celms heated up from outside and knocked down two three-balls as Latvia got to within 22-20. But Turkey remained ahead 26-22 after one period.
Latvia had a four-point possession after an unsportsmanlike foul on Ibrahim Yildrim and Krumins's team pulled ahead 39-37 on Oto Osenieks's inside basket. Deniz Kilicli came off the bench for back-to-back scores in helping Turkey lead 45-43 at the break.
The Latvians played tough defense to start the second half and held Turkey scoreless for nearly five minutes in grabbing a 51-45 lead. Kanter scored back-to-back baskets and Kilicli's foul shots pushed Taner Gonay's side ahead 53-52.
Latvia, however, led 57-54 going into the fourth. Armands Osins's jumper made it 61-56 but the game remained close the rest of the way. With Latvia trailing 66-65, Zeidaks missed two fouls with 29 seconds left. Incekara sandwiched four free throws around a dunk by Blaus and then Kalvis Krumins made just one of two from the stripe for a 70-68 Turkey lead.
Mahmutoglu also split two foul shots with seven seconds left and Celms missed a three-point attempt at the buzzer.