Veteran Nevriye Yilmaz will be a key player for Turkey underneath the basket
By Paul Nilsen
Whilst Turkey may have had their eye firmly on making back-to-back EuroBasket Women Finals, they now have to pick themselves up if they want to collect successive medals, since they face a Serbia team looking to write yet more history by inking a first ever podium finish.
Last Time Out: Turkey had a disastrous start in their semi-final against France when their rebounding at either end of the court went AWOL and they fell 21-9 behind. Whilst they rallied and eventually made it a one-shot game, it was too little, too late, as Les Bleues completed a 57-49 success. Serbia were routed 88-69 by a rampant Spain, who jumped on them from the tip-off and never gave them the slightest chink of daylight to hint a dream comeback could ever be on the agenda.
Key Match-Up:Nevriye Yilmaz really made some tough shots in the semi-final against France which gave her team a lifeline and almost contributed to them sneaking an unlikely win. During previous tournaments, the veteran has proven difficult to contain when she gets on a run of form and maybe this will be the game she comes up really big. Jelena Milovanovic will probably have to guard her for the most part and it will be interesting as a lot of action will take place away from the hoop. Yilmaz likes her trademark jump-shots, whether baseline or at the top of the key, also a favourite spot of Milovanovic too, who will go that little bit further and drift to the three-point line. She hasn't shot the ball as efficiently as she would have liked to, but a big performance from her in this game could make life uncomfortable for Turkey.
Key Stat: Serbia are the best offensive rebounding team left in the tournament with 14.3 per game, but ironically are the worst defensive rebounding team. It means both teams could be vulnerable to giving up second chance points.
X-Factors: The respective benches should be the 'X-Factor', since some of the most effective players for both teams have been those entering post tip-off. Serbia have had great success with the likes of Jovana Rad, who has shot the ball so perfectly from the three-point line. The forward has made 14 of 28 from downtown and is the second best three-point shooter in the competition. Team-mate Nevena Jovanovic has shot the ball less, but also been a real downtown sniper on occasion - something Turkey will have to be aware of. They normally bring the leadership and skills of Birsel Vadarli off the bench, who was absolutely gutted to have lost the semi-final and will be out to make amends. Esmeral Tuncluer had 20 points in the game with France, whilst it was surprising Yasemin Begum Dalgalar wasn't used in the semi-final more extensively, since she has shot the ball at over 60% this tournament.
Serbia head coach Marina Maljkovic is believes her players will be able to rise to the occasion and win a historic first medal for Serbia
From The Camps: "Serbia have come this far by playing very well. They are important competitors to have to try and beat. We will try not to go without a medal and we will really look forward to it. Perhaps the experience of winning medals is an experience we would like to get used to." - Turkish play-caller Ceyhun Yildizoglu.
"We could feel the energy consumption after the clash with Italy and also the minor injuries caught up with us [against Spain]. You saw that Ana Dabovic was unable to provide her maximum. Despite everything, I believe that we will be able to rise once again and try to win a medal. My girls are elite athletes and will show that they can rise after the defeat and once again be at their best." - Marina Maljkovic, Serbian head coach.