|Tayfun Erülkü was at his best when it mattered most and gave Turkey a huge win over frustrated Serbia|
A huge buzzer-beater sent Turkey to the Semi-Finals with a 64-62 win over Serbia in the second Quarter-Final of the U16 European Championship at Sports Hall Topolica in Bar, Montenegro on Friday afternoon.
Tayfun Erülkü nailed one of the biggest shots of the 2010 youth championships, if not the biggest, with almost no balance, against one big Serbian momentum, a single second on the game clock and six Serbian hands in his face to make the Turkish bench jump in the air and celebrate for long minutes after the buzzer.
"We had to win this game, there was no other option, and I was there to make a shot as a winner," said the excited Turkish guard.
Serbia wrote a big comeback capped by an off-dribble three pointer by Vasilje Micic to tie the score at 62-62 with six seconds to go, but the Turkish storm fired up that big shot in the final play.
Turkey will face the winner of Montenegro versus Lithuania in the closing game of the quarter-finals round, while Serbia will play the 5-8 Classification Round versus the loser.
2,000 fans created a great atmosphere for the game with fans cheering and pushing both sides in a hard nosed battle that saw a lot of ups and downs on both ends.
Erülkü finished as the top scorer for Turkey with 25 points, 18 of them in the last 12 minutes, and with that winner shot set a new individual high in points.
He was the only player for his team in double-digits but added six rebounds and six steals. Kenan Sipahi, Ismail Gulmez and Burak Haciismail scored eight each.
Micic was the top scorer of Serbia with 19 points and three steals, and he as well was the only double-digit scorer for his side. Stefan Pot added nine.
"It was a very tough game against a very good team and I'm very-very happy now that we made it happen," said Coach Erhan Toker from Turkey.
"We knew Serbia is a team that never stops, and they have already come back to win no less than three times in this championship, so we were ready for their come back and knew to expect that.
"I told my players to remain calm and keep their focus, and eventually came that big-big shot.
"Earlier in the year we lost to Serbia in the last second, so in a way we revenged now and it came in such important game," he added.
Micic was the lead singer for Serbia from the start and in the first minutes he scored eight to bestow his team a 12-8 lead after six minutes.
Pot came off the bench and drilled a three pointer to make it an early seven point game, but Haciismail made things a bit better for Turkey for a while, 15-12.
Serbia continued to get more points from the arc as Stefan Zorbas turned the score to 22-14 with 5:25 to play in the first half, but that's when Turkey decided to show they can play defense too.
Erülkü with a big drive and Mehmet Sözen in a three point play brought Turkey just one point behind, and kept Serbia on just two more points until the buzzer, to enter the break down 24-21 and still strong in the game.
The close game remained for five more minutes, until all of a sudden Turkey stormed out and seemed like the only team on the court.
Zafer Alp in big minutes led his team on a 9-1 run, and added another jumper quickly after.
Serbia called a timeout, but Erülkü taught a lesson with two steals in mid-court and quick four points to write a 35-43 advantage for his team.
Nikola Radicevic scored his first three pointer, but Turkey were still on fire and Erülkü beat the buzzer also in the third quarter with an off balance three pointer after yet another steal, 40-51.
A lay-up by Alp inside the last four minutes set the gap on 60-50 and it seemed like a sure win for Turkey but this Serbian team never gives up.
Nerves played a key role as both sides missed no less than 10 free throws in those last minutes, but Serbia were a bit more focused, to use no less than three turnovers by Turkey to convert with six points from the charity stripe.
Nikola Jankovic scored two after a free throw miss by Micic to make it 60-58 with 46 ticks on the game clock and also had a bonus shot, but missed it and Turkey were in charge, yet not for long.
Micic with a big steal gave Radicevic a chance to complete the comeback with a three pointer, but the ball went out and now Erülkü was on the line.
He as well connected just one, and Radicevic was sent to the same spot to avoid a three pointer.
He scored the first, while the second danced on the rim, giving Jankovic a chance to tie the score with a tip-in, but bad timing on the jump allowed Erülkü to pick the ball from the floor and go for another walk to the line.
The scenario repeated with just one good shot leaving Serbia 14 seconds to create things, and Micic stepped up with a big shot of his own, against the pressure and a Turkish defender to tie the score and erupt a big buzz in the seats.
Turkey called a time out with 5.7 second to play, Erülkü passed in and got the ball back with three seconds to go, and not many options but to just go for it and pray for the best and the best is what he got.