by Paul Nilsen
Turkish Coach Firat Okul has spoken of a new beginning for his team after lifting his players to help complete a stunning 67-64 win over reigning champions Spain.
Having been ruthlessly demolished in their previous game by Belgium and with Spain having suffered the shock of defeat to the hands of Serbia, few would have bet on Turkey coming out with a win.
Okul was exhausted on the final buzzer but passionate about his teams stunning performance - just 24 hours after being blown out by 30 points.
"This is a new start for our team. We had to pick ourselves up after yesterday and against a team like Spain we have proven once again that we can compete with the best."
"I am so tired and so are my players. We knew Spain had lost and would be ready and also I had to try to tell my players to forget the Belgium game and to believe again."
"That is something that is never easy but I really focused on getting all of our bench into the game for the full forty minutes and my players responded."
"We are a team with heart and with passion. This is how I always try to coach my players and this is one of my best ever wins as a coach."
"This was not about qualification for my team. This game against Spain was only about my players testing themselves against champions and proving themselves they can start again."
Turkey have been awful offensively in the first half of just about every single game so far - whether they have won or lost. This time however, playmaker Olcay Cakir had non intention of allowing it to happen again.
Looking re-energised once again, she came up with a majestic first quarter display to set Turkey on their way to a 19-14 lead as Spain struggled to shrug off their Serbian hangover.
|Olcay Cakir had a double-doube of 17 pts and 10 rbs to go with her 5 asts to lead her team to victory|
Cakir had arguably the best quarter spell of any player in the tournament. She was absolutely flawless making six of six getting to the hoop, sinking her solitary free-throw and despite her slender frame and average height, she even produced a spectacular defensive block.
Looking unstoppable, Spain could not find an answer to her all round game and penetration. The big question was not about Spanish defence but whether her Turkish team-mates could contribute and support her ahead of half-time.
They answered in emphatic fashion. Ferda Yildiz bagged two triples while Ayse Cora, the other classy player on the Turkish roster besides Cakir also stepped up with six points. It meant that Turkey led 38-27 going into the second half and wondering if Spanish depth would prove pivotal or whether Turkey could hold firm.
Within four minutes of the re-start, Turkeys lead all but evaporated as Spain produced a slick 13-3 run to get within one point. Itziar Llobet initiated it with a trey. Spain also looked to use their superior size and quickness advantage, particularly of Carla Rodriguez by cutting to the hoop and going inside.
At 43-42, Turkey were stuttering badly and unable to cope with the ball movement of Spain which proved decisive when Yurena Diaz drilled a three-pointer to hand finally hand the Spanish team their first lead of the second half.
Turkey simply had to stop the rot and a triple by Gulsah Duman was just what was needed to end the third quarter as Turkey sneaked back in front at 50-49.
They not only got their noses in front but they also scored quickly with Duman at it again when she landed another outside shot to put Turkey 61-53 in front. Just when shock back to back Spanish defeats looked a real possibility, they also found serious range.
Diaz and Llobet found back to back three-pointers to get within two points but incredibly the shoot-out continued as Ozge Kavurmacioglu replied for Turkey to keep Spain at arms length.
At 65-64 heading into the last moments, it was fitting that the player that started the game so brilliantly should also seal the victory. She got to the hoop for a superb score and while Spain tried in vain to force overtime through Laura Scantamburlo, it did not prove fruitful and the holders ended up with another shock defeat.