By David Hein
Turkey took a big step towards reaching the Quarter-Finals of the U20 European Championship Men by knocking off Serbia 63-52 in the Qualifying Round Group F
Ilkan Karaman had 16 points, nine rebounds, two steals and two blocks while Erol Cinko scored 13 points and Melih Mahmutoglu chipped in 10 points for Turkey, who improved to 2-2 in the group.
Serbia now face an uphill battle of reaching the quarters after dropping to 1-3. Nikola Markovic led Serbia with 13 points and Filip Covic had 10 points, five rebounds and five assists in a losing effort.
Turkey scored the first nine points of the game with Mahmutoglu hitting seven straight. Ene Orhun's team kept pouring it on with Cinko and Mahmutoglu then nailing back-to-back triples to spark a 19-1 run for a 28-4 lead. And it was 28-6 after one period.
Mukremin Kilicli's basket made it 32-6 before Serbia started working harder on defense. Slobodan Klipa's team held Turkey scoreless for more than four minutes but could only close the gap to 20 points - 32-12. Tufan Onen's three-ball snapped the drought and Turkey were ahead 37-15 at intermission.
The Serbs continued their tough defense out of the locker room and scored the first eight points of the second half, capped by Stefan Stojacic's three-pointer as Serbia trailed 37-23.
Onen again stopped the Serbian run only to see Branko Lazic nail a trey and Markovic's free throws cut the deficit to 46-34. Cinko drained another long ball dagger to make it 49-34 after three quarters.
The advantage was back to 17 points - 53-36 - before Stefan Bircevic sparked a 10-3 spurt to bring it back to single digits. But Karaman beat a defensive trap with a dunk and the Turks scored the final five points of the game.