By Kevin Anselmo
Croatia and Turkey will fight it out for second place in Group B this evening at the Moraca Sports Center in Podgorica. One can only hope that the “fighting out” is in a non-violent basketball way, contrary to what occurred when the two teams last played.
A fight marred Turkey´s 75-72 win against Croatia in the 2003 EuroBasket. Following the final buzzer, players from both sides started to fight with each other and spectators threw things on the court.
“We want to forget about the fight,” Croatian guard Gordan Giricek said. “But if something happens, we'll stand up for ourselves. We respect everyone, but are not afraid of anyone.”
“It happens,” said Turkey´s Hidayet Turkoglu. “We're two teams playing aggressive fighting to win. We'll see what happens.”
|Gordan Giricek |
The stakes will be high for their encounter this evening, with the winner securing second place in Group B. The loser would have to travel to Vrsac to play the second seed in Group A, while the winner will remain in Podgorica to play the third place team from Group A.
“We have to forget about the past,” Croatian coach Neven Spahija said. “It is the current game that counts.”
Croatia defeated Bulgaria in their opener and then suffered an 85-67 setback yesterday against Lithuania.
Turkey lost in the opener to Lithuania and then defeated Bulgaria 94-89 last night. Turkey trailed by as many as 12 in the fourth quarter before rallying for the victory.
“We have to play smarter,” Turkoglu said. “We´ve made a lot of stupid mistakes in our first two games.”
Overall, the two teams have played seven times in EuroBasket, with Turkey winning four of the meetings. In the 2001 quarterfinals, Turkey defeated Croatia 87-85 and eventually claimed the silver medal.
Gordan Giricek leads Croatia in scoring, tallying 20.5 over his team´s first two games. Mirsad Turkcan tops Turkey´s offense with 16 points per game.
Turkey will hope to get more production from Mehmet Okur, who has averaged 10 points and four rebounds so far.
An interesting match-up on the perimeter features NBA talents Turkoglu and Giricek.