By Simon Wilkinson
Turning point: Ender Arslan sliced inside the Spanish defense for a lay-up with 1:42 left to play that put Turkey up 61-58 and saw the world champions just dumbfounded as to what they could do to stop the smaller guards from getting to the basket with so much ease.
Hero: Turkey's big men. Omar Asik attacked Pau Gasol time and time again in the first half, outscoring him 13-8 and posterising him several times. Asik actually seemed quieter when guarded by Marc Gasol. The Turkish center seemed to give his team-mates the confidence to go at the Los Angeles Lakers star player and the other Spanish big guys who, Marc Gasol notwithstanding looked out of sorts on the day. Turkey's other center, Semih Erden, manhandled Pau down the stretch.
Stats: Turkey had four players score in double figures (Ersan Ilyasova with 15, Asik with 13 and Erden and Kerem Tunceri both with 11), none of whom was Hidayet Turkoglu. The versatile forward had just two points.
Turkey used some strong inside play to hold off Spain 63-60 and remain unbeaten (3-0) in Group F of the EuroBasket 2009 Qualifying Round in Lodz.
Centers Asik Omer and Semih Erden combined for 25 points and 10 rebounds as the hosts of next year's World Championships edged ever closer to clinching their place in the last eight. Meanwhile, Spain dropped to 1-2.
|Ömer Asik had a big first half for Turkey.|
Turkey led for most of a low-scoring final quarter and were up 61-60 with five seconds remaining but Spain still had one last chance to hand them their first loss.
Sergio Llull got the ball at the top of the key and drove right to the basket, but his dunk attempt was rejected by Ersan Ilyasova, who then found Semih Erden on the outlet. After being fouled hard by Llull - the foul was called unsportsmanlike - the Turkish center hit two free-throws to seal the win.
Afterwards, Spain head coach Sergio Scariolo said there was little more his team could have done.
"It was a very, very close game. Both teams played really hard the whole time. Turkey did better things in the last four or five minutes. We had big problems with our opponents getting offensive rebounds. We were playing good defense. We will keep going and we just have to focus on the next game," he said.
And Scariolo was happy with the choice his team made for the play that could have won them the game.
"We saw that Turkey put in four big men and we had quite a good penetrator in Sergio Llull. He beat his man and had a clear advantage. I don't know if it was a foul at the end."
Turkey were up 36-34 at the break but fell behind early in the third quarter as Spain used a 9-3 run to jump in front 43-37.
Juan Carlos Navarro scored his first five points of the game and the Gasol brothers combined well, Marc feeding Pau for an easy two before Rudy Fernandez came off a screen for a sweeping lay-up with 6:54 left in the period.
Turkey responded right away, running off 10 unanswered points with Ilysova accounting for six of them courtesy of a three-pointer and three free-throws and a 49-43 advantage.
The Spaniards were struggling, turning the ball over and committing questionable fouls. They were scoreless for more than 5:40, with Reyes's short jumper the first points since Fernandez's lay-up.
Jorge Garbajosa hit a corner three late in the third quarter to get Spain within one, 49-48, heading into the final frame.
Turkey were up by five, 55-50 after Engin Atsur hit a wide-open three-pointer from the wing and Erden hit a hook shot over Pau Gasol with 6:40 left to play.
Rudy Fernandez hit a corner three and Pau Gasol scored the next three points to edge Spain back in front, 56-55 but Ilyasova made a lay-up and Erden again scored for a 59-56 lead with under three minutes remaining.
Pau Gasol made a pair of free-throws before Ender Arslan slid between the Spanish defense for a lay-up and a 61-58 advantage with 1:52 left to play.
Spain were lucky to get within one as Ricky Rubio turned the ball over but Turkey returned the favour and Navarro made a lay-up with a minute to go.
In the first quarter, a rare Rubio three-pointer broke a 4-4 deadlock and Spain soon led 14-8 thanks to five quick points by Fernandez.
But Turkey came right back and, with Omer Asik proving too much for the Spaniards to handle down low, they edged in front 18-16 on his free-throw with about two minutes left in the period.
Fernandez accounted for the last two baskets of the period as the world champions led 22-20 heading into the second quarter.
Marc Gasol scored five quick points as Spain took their biggest lead of the first half, 27-20. In response, Turkey again turned to Asik, who got them back within one, 27-26.
Asik was playing so well, he was getting points even without scoring himself. After being fouled and missing both free-throws, he was accredited with two points when Pau Gasol miss-timed his jump and knocked the second foul shot into the basket for a 31-30 score in Spain's favour.
Kerem Tunceri hit a contested three-pointer over Ricky Rubio to edge Bogdan Tanjevic's side back in front 33-31.
Felipe Reyes banked a shot to put Spain in front but Ilyasova gave the Turks a 36-34 lead at the break when he buried a long bomb of his own just before the half-time buzzer sounded.