|Cedi Osman gave Turkey the boost they needed to overcome Croatia|
Turkey overcame first-day jitters to prevail 70-66 over Croatia in overtime, in the clash that lifted the curtain on the U20 European Championship in Heraklion, Crete on Tuesday.
Turning Point: With just 16 seconds left on the clock in overtime and Turkey leading 67-66, Tayfun Erülkü split two free throws and Croatia were left with the option to either try to tie the game or go for the winning triple on the last possession. They did neither, as first Domagoj Bosnjak missed a three-point shot from the corner and then Dominik Mavra, who collected the offensive rebound, could not make his put-back lay-up drop in. Metin Türen was fouled and sealed the win for Turkey from the charity stripe with just over a second remaining.
Game Hero: Cedi Osman came on for Turkey midway through the first quarter and almost immediately, with 4:40 left to the first buzzer, drilled a triple from the right wing and then followed up with a lay-up in transition after a defensive stop. Those two buckets were the first points from the field for a Turkish side that had only scored from the free throw line until then and provided them with a much-needed impetus as well as their first lead in the game, 12-7. Turkey would never abolish the lead again and Osman finished with 13 points, six rebounds and two assists.
Stats Don't Lie: When you cannot hit your shots, the only alternative is to draw fouls and try your luck from the charity stripe. Turkey scored half of their 30 first-half points from the foul line and led 30-26. They were 15-of-20 from the stripe and only 6-of-32 from the floor. In a game that went into overtime they could also rely on their depth, as they got 39 points from players coming off the bench. Croatia only got 17 points from their bench players.
The Bottom Line: Turkey are the early leaders of Group C but still have the same amount of improvement to do on the offensive end as Croatia. Both sides showed they have worked on their defensive rotations quite efficiently and can rely on this aspect for their remaining games.