by Dan Casey
|Metecan Birsen took his team on his back, pouring in 18 points, grabbing 9 rebounds and also contributing 6 assists and 4 steals|
Turkey held off a late Latvian rally to improve to 2-1 in Qualifying Round Group F with a 75-72 win.
Metecan Birsen top-scored with 18 points for Turkey and also had 9 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 steals.
Kartal Özmizrak added 12 points, 5 assists and 4 steals, and Ayberk Güleryüz had 13 points and 7 rebounds.
Ivars Zvigurs led Latvia in the defeat with 19 points and 11 rebounds.
Coach Taner Günay was proud of his team after the game, though he still saw room for improvement: "We were brave today, we showed a lot of heart, it's not always easy at this age. We're still looking for consistency - we've had four games so far, and still haven't played a good 40 minutes."
In a pulsating match, Latvia started well and closed the first quarter on a 13-0 run to lead 20-8. But Turkey came back strong and tied the game on an offensive rebound and put-back by Sertan Sari, making the half-time score 35-35.
Turkey went on an early 11-0 run in the second half, and a dunk from Güleryüz moved Turkey 48-40 ahead. Latvia struggled back though, and Davis Geks nailed a three-pointer late in the third quarter to cut the lead to two, 52-50.
Özmizrak and Birsen hit three-pointers to open the fourth quarter, Birsen's attempt banking in to give Turkey an eight-point lead.
Still Latvia wouldn't lie down, and Rolands Smits scored and added the free throw before a steal and drive from Zvigurs cut the lead to one at 68-67 with 1:37 remaining.
Cedi Osman and Smits traded baskets before Güleryüz set a pick, rolled to the basket hard, made the basket and was fouled also.
He also hit the free-throw to make the score 73-69 and then he collected the rebound off a Smits miss to secure victory.