Erbil Eroglu's 10 points and 8 assists gave Turkey a boost in their win over Lithuania
Turkey delivered on Tuesday their best defensive display at the Sportland U20 European Championship to prevail 52-48 over Lithuania and punch their ticket to the quarter-finals from Group E.
Lithuania still maintain their options intact and will advance as well to the last eight if they defeat Croatia on Wednesday, while Turkey could celebrate top spot in the group if they stop Greece's undefeated run on the final day of Second Round group action.
Turkey arrived at Tuesday's encounter sporting just the 14th best defence in the tournament, as they had allowed their opponents to score 72.4 points per game on average.
They did not choose to turn the clash into a low-scoring affair and were more eager than Lithuania to run in the open court (actually scoring 14 fast break points to Lithuania's seven) but they adapted much faster when the clash went in that direction.
Turkey resorted to a 2-3 zone for the most part of the game mainly to limit Lithuania's dominance on the glass, but they achieved much more than that.
Firstly, they forced 19 Lithuanian turnovers, off which they scored 17 - enormously precious in this kind of game - points.
Most importantly, they kept Lithuania to an extremely poor 22.5% field goal percentage throughout the first half, to grab a 27-22 lead at the interval.
Lithuania have turned many a game around in this tournament after a discreet first half performance, but they continued to shoot the ball equally bad when they returned to the floor from the locker rooms.
Turkey were facing offensive woes of their own of course, but keeping your opponents to just four points for an entire quarter (the third) can do miracles for your morale.
When Ramazan Tekin took advantage of yet another Lithuanian turnover to score another easy lay-up and give Turkey 40-29 with 4:46 left to play in the encounter, Lithuania knew they needed a minor miracle.
They managed to score 19 points in the final five minutes, a real feat considering they had scored 29 in 35 minutes, but it could only be enough to get past the 44-point mark and avoid the dubious distinction of having scored the less points in one game in this tournament.
Samet Geyik was immense for Turkey and finished with 21 points and six rebounds, while Erbil Eroglu had 10 points and dished out eight assists.
No Lithuanian player scored in double digits but Laimonas Chatkevicius grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds to go with his four points.