Turkey Overpower Italy

18 July 2006

Italy had no answer against a ferocious Turkish defense in the quarter-final round of the Ostchem U20 European Championship Men in Izmir on Tuesday.

Italy were averaging a shade over 70 points per game going into the contest, but were held to just 53 points by Turkey.

Smarting after an unexpected loss to Russia in their final preliminary round game, Turkey set out their stall early, closing the lane and forcing Italy to shoot from the outside.

The Italians mustered 16 points in the first quarter, but 7 of those came from top scorer Luigi Da Tome on a jump shot, three-pointer and fast break dunk.

Things really began to unravel for Italy in the second period. Turkey somehow found another level of defensive intensity and it took Italy over 5 minutes to register their first basket of the quarter.

It was Luca Vitali who broke the drought with a jump shot, but by that time, Italy were already trailing 18-29.

Turkey then went on a 12-5 run to close the quarter and it was only a last second three-pointer by Matteo Canavesi which stopped Turkey taking a +20 point lead into halftime, 41-23.

Turkey's strength is not only in star players Cenk Akyol and Ersan Ilyasova. Coach Nihat Izic has a deep bench on which he can rely and was confident enough to play his second string as Turkey cruised to an easy win.

Ömer Asik and Cemal Nalga were particularly impressive for Turkey. Neither player had featured much in Izic's line-up in Turkey's opening 3 games, but they combined for 11 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocked shots in what proved to be polished cameo performances.

Oguz Savas top scored for Turkey with 15 points while Cenk Akyol had 14. Turkey outrebounded Italy 51-25.

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