|Ilimane Diop was the main threat for Spain with a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds|
by Dan Casey
Spain stayed on course for gold with a 65-54 Quarter-Final win over Turkey in Pardubice.
A balanced Spanish attack saw seven players contribute 7 points or more, led by Ilimane Diop's double-double (13 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks). Cedi Osman scored a game-high 17 points for Turkey, Kartal Özmizrak added 15 points, 6 rebounds and 4 steals, and Metecan Birsen had 10 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocked shots.
Coach Diego Ocampo was relieved after the win: "We didn't play too well in the second half, and they surrounded Birsen with good shooters so it was hard at times to cover their offense."
In a quarter-final featuring two of the top-4 defenses in the competition, it was perhaps not surprising that we had to wait for our first basket. After 1:57 Osman opened the scoring, but Diop blocked Birsen to set the tone inside, and Javier De La Blanca's introduction from the bench provided instant offense for the Spanish team.
Turkey's rhythm was further disrupted when big man Ayberk Güleryüz picked up his third foul after just 6:14 of the first period. But Osman was able to collect a wayward shot from Adnan Mustafa and flip it in at the first-quarter buzzer to cut the lead to 4, Spain ahead 15-11.
When the second quarter began with a steal from Özmizrak and blocks from Birsen and Mehmet Alemdaroglu, it seemed that Turkey would be able to push ahead. But the Spanish defense was able to achieve more despite being less spectacular, and held Turkey scoreless for the first 4:43 of the period.
By the time Birsen scored off an offensive rebound put-back, the Spanish offense was building momentum and Adria Cantenys hit a three-pointer with 3:04 remaining to put the Spanish team ahead 30-15. Tough defense from both sides followed but Ferran Ventura banked in a three-pointer at the half-time buzzer to put Spain 33-17 clear.
Turkey attempted to come back in the second half, but Jose Nogues hit a jump-shot to beat the shot-clock buzzer and keep Spain ahead, 39-26. Cantenys and Diop followed up with big blocks to stop the Turkish team's momentum, and soon afterwards Cantenys found Diop for a dunk and a 43-27 lead.
Turkey would not give up and buckets from Özmizrak and Mustafa reduced the lead to eight points at the start of the fourth quarter. Another three-pointer from Cantenys pushed the lead back up to 14, but the Turkish full-court press forced Spanish guard Alberto Martin into three consecutive turnovers. Ventura hit another vital three-pointer to put the lead back to 14 points with 4:17 remaining, and the Spanish team resisted any further pressure.
Coach Ocampo said that his scouts will prepare for either Russia or Croatia in the semi-final, but admitted he didn't mind who his team would face: "We can only focus on ourselves, look after ourselves, play our best game."