Turkish Test For A Still Sky-High Italy

19 June 2013
10. Isil Alben (Turkey)
Turkey made the final in 2011 and coach Yildizoglu

A couple of days after triumphantly celebrating their dramatic passage through to the second round, inexperienced Italy remain buoyant, but will have to really excel to avoid being brought back down to earth with a bump against a flawless Turkey.

Last Time Out: Turkey emphasised their medal potential by maintaining their perfect record and signing off the first round with a comfortable 66-48 victory against the Slovak Republic. Italy famously lost 72-66 to Russia, but the six-point margin meant that they progressed when Spain subsequently did them a big favour by beating Sweden.

Key Match Up: Quanitra Hollingsworth will perhaps have the most important role from a Turkish perspective in terms of trying to blunt the impact of fellow center Kathrin Ress who has been a driving force for Italy. It is a heavyweight battle under the glass and since Ress is the go-to figure inside for Italy, they could have problems if Hollingsworth wins this particular battle.

Key Stat: The size of the offensive task which lies in wait for the Italians is measured by the effectiveness of the Turkish defence, who are the stingiest in the top half of the tournament, giving up fewer points than anyone else at 52.3 per-game.

X-Factor: Up against an imperious defensive team, can Italy execute and take the opportunities that come their way? So far, Italy have shown oodles of heart with a fantastic work-rate and no shortage of belief; but they have dodged the bullets as they have not been punished for missing too many lay-ups or not making enough shots. Regardless, they are in a good position right now, but to really make the most of it, they have to continue to hang tough and make life a little easier on themselves, by being more ruthless at the hoop and really focus on finishing plays. Can they do this? Well, they had better hope so, because you don't get a lot of second chances against a Turkish team who can both run you off the court with their energy and hustle, or just wear you down with their depth and rotation.

From The Camps: "I am happy and proud of the team because in this third game we had to play at a very high level against a great team such as Russia. We also played two great games against Spain and Sweden and therefore I am proud, because we only came to demonstrate we can compete against every one and we are doing this" - Italian head coach Roberto Ricchini.

"Each tournament has a different story. Now, Russia has gone, but the Italians and Spaniards are in great shape. At the end of the tournament, we can hopefully meet our own request. The last result was playing in the final two years ago and we do not want to go down from this point" - Turkey head coach Ceyhun Yildizoglu.


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