by Paul Nilsen
Turkey will fight it out with Italy tomorrow for a place at next years U17 World Championships after winning their respective semi-finals for the 5 to 8 spots against Greece and Czech Republic.
In the first game of the day, Turkey stepped onto court looking to pick themselves off the floor after their gut wrenching quadruple overtime loss against France the night before.
|Olcay Cakir was obviously exhausted after the showdown with France only 15 hours earlier but still shot 4/7 from the floor and grapped 6 rbs|
Few in Napoli thought they would be able to find the physical energy or mental strength to bounce straight back, but to their immense credit, they did.
They produced arguably the gutsiest performance of the tournament to complete a 60-52 victory with 17 points off the bench from Pelin Bilgic and 13 from Yasemin Koc.
Greece meanwhile will be bitterly disappointed by the loss, since a game high 23 points from Anthoula Chatzigiakoumi and yet another double-double from center Artemis Spanou was not sufficient to overcome a Turkish team just about running on empty.
Whether those last drops of Turkish gasoline will be enough to ensure one last push against the intensity of hosts Italy on the final day of the tournament remains to be seen. Whatever happens, Coach Okul can be proud of his players spirit and mental toughness.
In the second game, Italy also had to show their toughness after blowing a big
|Naples local Sara Bocchetti gave her team a lift with 9 pts off the bench|
opportunity for reaching the last four in their pulsating overtime contest with Russia. With Czech Republic having been comprehensively crushed by Spain and having little to lose, it was an intriguing situation.
Italy however showed their usual intensity and claimed a comprehensive 64-47 win after great finishes to both halves of the game. The Italian defence held their opponents to just 8 points in the second quarter to take a double digit lead into the third quarter and while Czech Republic hung around, Italy made their break in the final ten minutes.
They outscored the Czech team 18-10 with Elettra Ferretti making up for her crucial last second missed lay-up against Russia by claiming a game high 14 points and 7 rebounds for the hosts.
It now promises to be a thrilling finale between Italy and Turkey with both teams eager to bury the disappointment of their quarter final overtime defeats by clinching that coveted place in the World Championships next year.