Bahar Caglar and Turkey locked down Belarus and now have a chance to return to the final with one more win
By Paul Nilsen
Turning Point: There was still the faintest chance of a turnaround for Belarus with just under four minutes to play and down by nine points. However, Saziye Ivegin iced the game for Turkey by firstly making a score right on the shot-clock buzzer and then draining a three-point shot from the wing next time down the court.
Stats Don't Lie: Belarus couldn't get their perimeter game fired up and made only 15.4% from outside whilst 20 turnovers also made it a painful night of work.
Game Heroes: In a defensive-orientated contest, Isil Alben produced a typically smart display and had a perfect shooting night, going four of four from the floor. Meanwhile Ivegin was the only player in the game to make a mark from downtown, hitting three triples in a 13 point haul.
Turkey are just forty minutes away from successive Eurobasket Women final appearances after they eventually shrugged off dogged Belarus to take a 55-41 victory and advance to the semi-finals in Orchies.
In a decidedly rugged game, Turkey had the extra quality, experience and most importantly of all, the defensive capabilities to prevail.
Having landed silver two years ago, Turkish small forward Saziye Ivegin was excited on the final buzzer at the prospect of adding to her medal haul.
She said, "We had to work very hard against Belarus since they are a very physical team and never give up.
"Now I am so happy that because of our defence, which helped to win the game, we will now get to play another semi-final game.
"We have ambitions for the tournament and we are now getting closer to them."
Turkey always held the upper hand and lead more or less from tip to buzzer. They only briefly wobbled, primarily in the third quarter when their offence deserted them.
They had started vibrantly and with turnovers mounting for Belarus and nothing falling from the perimeter, a rare success from three-point land by Nevriye Yilmaz put Turkey firmly in control at 31-15.
But, after a worrying ankle injury to Birsel Vardarli, Turkey lost their impetus and Belarus worked their way back into the contest at 37-33.
Belarus also had a strong third period and were still in the game at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
Unfortunately for them, just seconds after Yelena Leuchanka missed a lay-up to potentially make it a six-point game and get on a roll, Ivegin punished the error with a three-pointer from the corner.
It took Turkey 11 points clear and that gave them a handy cushion - although they didn't really need it.
The result puts the FIBA World Championship for Women dreams of Belarus on pause, but sparked celebrations for Czech Republic, who will line up next summer for sure, since the progression of next year's host nation Turkey to the semi-finals ensures six European teams will play at the global event.