The first Semi-Final of this Championship lasted until the very last second before one team had made it into the Final brackets. France led for the majority of the game, despite a 10-0 opener by Turkey, and opened the last quarter with a 10 point lead of its own. However, Turkey stopped the French squad on no more than 7 points in the last quarter and with a great finish by Akyol and big center Savas took over the game and got the first ticket to the Final.
A blasting start for Turkey put the reds on top with a 10-0 start after Akyol sank a three and Demirel a mid-range jumper. Johan Petro scored the first points for France down in the paint after 3:20 minutes, and then it was time for the French defense to start up. Turkey’s next points came only when the clock showed 1:40 to go in the 1st quarter. By then France had already tied the score with an 0-10 run of its own. France with the last 4 points of the quarter took its first lead in the game, 12-14.
|Oguz Savas and Johan Petro|
Three minutes into the 3rd quarter and Turkey was back in the game, after Savas once again cut France’s margin to 6, 30-36. France called for a time-out, and came back with a 4-10 run, thanks to two downtown bombs by Mokongo and Plateau. Turkey didn’t stand a chance in front of the French wall on defense, and a missed 3 point shot by Hakan Demirel in the last seconds of the 3rd, enabling France to walk into the last quarter with a 10 point lead, 38-48.
Turkey opened the last quarter with quick 5 points, as Savas made a bucket and drew the 4th foul from Petro to make it 43-48. Akyol with a steal and a quick assist for a lay up, scratched two more points from the French lead. Both teams were very nervous and made countless turnovers and missed shots, until the same Akyol made it a one point game, 47-48, with 5 minutes to go.
France still didn’t manage to add a point to its scoreboard in the 4th quarter, but right in time, before Turkey took over, Mokongo stole the ball from Senturk, and finished with a lay-up which gave the French bench some air to breathe. With exactly 4:00 to go Hakan Demirel nailed a great bucket and went to the line to tie the score at 50-50. France added 2 more for its last Semi-Final advantage, but it didn’t survive for long. Savas, wrapping up a great 2nd half, tied the game and put Turkey on top with a bonus from the line, 53-52 with 2:30 to go.
|Engin Bayav celebrating|
Turkey put its trust in Demirel but the talented guard missed his shots with 20 seconds to go. French time? Not yet. Turkey was on the rebound and it took the French players 13 seconds to stop the clock with a foul. Bayev was cool enough to hit both shots and once again increase Turkey’s lead to 3. Akyol did his best to prevent France from taking a 3 point shot, and with 1:2 seconds to go he made a flagrant foul on Pellin. The first ball went in, in oppose to the 2nd one and France had its very last chance. The ball was passed to Petro down in the paint, but the big center was unable to catch the ball, and Turkey’s bench jumped in the air.