By Simon Wilkinson
Boris Diaw broke out of a recent slump to record a tournament high 18 points as France (3-2) beat Turkey (0-5) 85-64 in their final game of the qualifying round.
The result didn’t affect the fate of Claude Bergeaud’s men who had already secured their place in the last eight and knew before the game that they would face Russia in the quarter-finals tomorrow night.
And while a victory was not crucial for France, the players felt it was a much-needed boost ahead of tomorrow’s clash.
|Despite having NBA stars like Hidayet Türkoglu in the line-up, Turkey struggled at EuroBasket.|
“This win gives us a bit of confidence going into the game tomorrow,” said swingman Tariq Kirksay, who finished with 15 points – hitting all of his shots from the field and the free-throw line – along with four rebounds and three steals.
“We had to work on some things and I think we did well. I don't know if you want to say it was a practice game, but we wanted to work on some stuff. And we wanted to win and we got some players some confidence. And now we have to be ready for tomorrow.”
Turkey, meanwhile, now head home and have time to contemplate where they go from here after finishing dead last in Group F, failing to win a single game in the second phase of the tournament.
“We just have to wait and see what happens for us and Turkish basketball,” admitted guard Engin Atsur afterwards.
“I hope this doesn't do immense damage to Turkish basketball. Obviously we're disappointed, but we're going to try to bounce back as a country in basketball. It hurts because we had a great summer last year. If you look at it, we have great talent, but we just couldn't make it as a team this year.”
The game was close for the better part of the first two quarters before France used an 8-0 run in the closing minutes of the first half to take a 43-35 lead at the break.
Little used back-up center Pape Badiane scored five of his 12 points in the spurt as Les Bleus went ahead 36-35 and never relinquished the lead.
France extended their lead to 56-46 by the end of the third quarter and Diaw scored 10 of his team-high 18 points to end Turkey’s hopes of a late comeback, despite a three-point barrage by team captain Ibrahim Kutluay and some fine play down low by Kaya Peker.
“The most important thing for us was not so much to win against Turkey but to play a good game because we have to be ready for Russia,” Diaw explained.
“We wanted to go forward and not back in terms of play and we did that against Turkey. We got everybody to play tonight and that's good because we might need all of our players to be ready to step up for the rest of the championship.”
Peker had a game-high 19 points while Kutluay added nine points – all on three-pointers.