Turkey Beat Italy To Lift Efes Cup

03 September 2005

Turkey pulled away from a tired Italy in the second half on Saturday to win the Efes Cup final 81-56 and send out a warning to the rest of the Europe about their potential to capture EuroBasket gold later this month in Serbia & Montenegro.

Turkey, who beat Slovenia to reach the final of the Cup, have a host of players with past and present NBA connections, including Hedo Turkoglu, Mehmet Okur, Mirsad Turkcan and Ibrahim Kutluay.

All four saw time on court and combined to score 29 points. It was a non-NBA player, Kerem Tunceri, who top-scored for Bogdan Tanjevic's team with 14 points.

The Azzurri, who had played well in their semi-final win over Russia, were right in the game early in the second half when they trailed 45-39.

Turkey reeled off 10 straight points to take control, though, to lead 55-39. The Italians shaved four points off the deficit by the end of the third quarter, but Turkey maintained their lead over the final 10 minutes for a convincing win.

Italy coach Carlo Recalcati, the mastermind of their bronze medal win at EuroBasket 2003 and their silver medal success at last summer's Olympics, says his players must not forget what has made them a special team the past two years.

"I don't want to sound too repetitive, but if we don't play, showing our own identity, which is made up of suffering and humility, this is what happens," Recalcati said.

The conditioning of players is a concern for all of the coaches, including Recalcati.

"At this point of the preparation, we have players who can't play two consecutive games at a high level," he said.

"Against Russia, (Dante) Calabria and (Gianluca) Basile scored a total of 34 points. Tonight, only two.

"Or (Massimo) Bulleri, for example, who came in as a substitute in the second half and played six minutes, netted a three-pointer and committed three fouls immediately after because he had given a lot in our previous games.

"We simply have players who need to be in better condition, not only individually but as a team."

Turkey coach Tanjevic is hoping to do for his current national team what he did six years ago for Italy, when he led them to a gold medal.

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