Terrific Trio Take Turkey To Bronze

30 June 2013

 By Paul Nilsen

Birsel Vardarli (Turkey)
Birsel Vardarli sparked Turkey's run in the third quarter with 15 points in that frame

Turning Point: Early in the third quarter, Turkish guard Birsel Vardarli showed her class and took control of the game. She was the instigator of a devastating 14-0 run, which took the game completely away from Serbia.

Stats Don't Lie: It was a day to forget for Serbia who were trashed 48-27 on the glass and had to contend with Vardarli, Yilmaz and Hollingsworth accumulating 54 points from a spectacular combined floor shooting percentage of 73.33%

Game Heroes: Vardarli finished with 17 points, six rebounds and five assists. Quanitra Hollingsworth also came up big after some indifferent displays and had an excellent double-double of 18 points and 16 rebounds, whilst frontcourt partner Nevriye Yilmaz weighed in with a fantastic 19 points.

A trio of scintillating performances by the big-hitters of Turkey led them past Serbia 92-71 to ensure they took the last spot on the podium with a bronze medal at EuroBasket Women 2013 in Orchies.

Having landed a historic silver medal two years ago in Poland, Ceyhun Yildozoglu and his players secured successive podium finishes, to make up for their disappointment at missing out on back-to-back final appearances.

It was Birsel Vardarli, Nevriye Yilmaz and Quanitra Hollingsworth who stole the show, the latter admitting she needed to answer the critics.

"I felt as though I didn't come out and play in the semi-final against France," said Hollingsworth.

"So, I felt it was important that I made a statement in this game and it feels good to come away with a medal."

Turkey were handed a boost ahead of the game, when Serbia decided against risking Ana Dabovic who had been carrying a knee injury throughout the second half of the tournament.

However, it didn't have much of an impact, since Serbia looked fluid on offence and playing with freedom, they took advantage of some worryingly wayward and lax Turkish defence to move 16-9 in front.

Much to the noticeable irritation of Coach Yildizoglu, his players kept conceding points far too easily and with Sara Krnjic producing her best form of the tournament for Serbia, it kept them in front.

And, just as Turkey began to peg Serbia back, a lay-up by Tamara Radocaj on the buzzer kept them in front 44-43 heading to the locker rooms at the half.

When Jelena Milovanovic hit a three at the start of the third quarter, it looked like Serbia would continue in the same vein but it wasn't to be, as Vardarli found a completely new gear.

Almost inconsolable after defeat by France and with her colleagues struggling to impose themselves against their pesky Serbian opponents, she simply put her team on her back.

She found her range from the perimeter and dished up some nice assists for Yilmaz and Hollingsworth who did the damage in the paint.

Once Turkey broke away, they had little trouble in maintaining their cushion as Serbia tried in vain to respond and recover.

Despite missing out bronze head coach Marina Maljkovic described her team's fourth place finish as shining just like gold - and it was hard to disagree.





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