QUARTER-FINALSA very strong second half propelled Serbia's way into the Semi-Final Round of the U16 European Championship Women and shattered Turkey's dreams of a medal in the tournament.
Turkey players had a night to forget from the free throw line (6/20) while Serbia kept their cool when it mattered to take the important victory 54-49.
Head Coach Dragan Ognjenovic was proud of his girls after the game.
"We struggled in the beginning of this tournament," he said. "We had a lot of quality teams in our groups. But we tried to improve our game and teamwork in every match. We proved ourselves against Russia and the games versus Sweden and Finland gave us more fuel. Today we were very emotional and out of nowhere we are in the Semi-Finals."
Both teams were going hand in hand in the first five minutes of the game (8-8). Then Turkey increased the defensive pressure and stopped the Serbian offense in their tracks to pull away 19-12.
The Serbs, usually one of the most efficient offensive teams, struggled to establish their attacking plays in this game. Turkey's tough defense limited them to 19 points in 20 minutes. Turkey did not have good shooting numbers but the ones they had were sufficient to claim a solid lead at halftime (28-19).
The halftime break helped Serbia to regroup. Within five minutes into the third quarter they had tied the game (30-30) with a 11-2 run. With Serbia's offense back to full strength the momentum of the game started to shift. The Serbs captured a narrow three point lead but Turkey responded and closed out the third period with six straight points.
As they entered the last quarter (38-35), the game was still up for grabs with the lead changing hands. With five minutes remaining Turkey trailed by a single point (44-45). A three pointer by Merve Aydin sent them back in front (47-45). Serbia answered with four points in a row to go ahead with only 1:07 minutes to play.
Turkey equalized again before Natasa Kovacevic delivered a three pointer just in time to avoid a shot clock violation. Serbia went up by three again with 22 seconds to go. After Turkey's following possession failed Aleksandra Stanacev sank two free throws to make the Serbian triumph perfect.
Kovacevic posted a double double with 17 points and 14 rebounds. Didem Nakas was Turkey's leading scorer with 15 points.
Serbia will face Croatia in the Semi-Finals.