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Alben, Veterans Have Eye On Rio

28 June 2015
EUROBASKET WOMEN 2015
10. Isil Alben (Turkey)
Isil Alben believes an Olympic berth may stall the retirement plans of some of Turkey's veterans

Turkey guard Isil Alben admits securing the last European berth at the 2016 Olympic Qualifying Tournament is a small consolation for missing out on the medals at EuroBasket Women 2015.

The 29-year-old playmaker converted a decisive lay-up with 4.6 seconds left and then sealed victory with a steal as the Turks saw off Russia 68-66 in an overtime thriller in Budapest to take fifth place in the overall tournament standings.

For the Russians, their ambitions to go to Rio 2016 are at an end. Instead, Turkey will join Spain, Belarus and the loser of Sunday's final between France and Serbia in what will be a 12-team field next summer to determine the six additional qualifiers for Brazil.

"That was a tough game, maybe the toughest, because whoever took fifth has a chance to go to the Olympics," Alben said. "So this was so important for us. I wish it hadn't gone to overtime and we could have finished it off in 40 minutes but we did a great job. We lost in the quarter-final. Now we have fifth place. It was not our first goal but we're happy to have a second chance to go to Rio.

"It's so hard to play in these classification games for 5th to 8th. It's tough because on the one hand, you've reached one goal but on the other hand, you have that pain in your heart to not be in the final."

It makes it all but certain that the international careers of Nevriye Yilmaz and Birsel Vardarli Demirmen will now be prolonged for one further year as the core of Turkey's recent successes gets an opportunity to take their leave on the biggest sporting stage of all.

"We will see," Alben said. "Hopefully we will all be here and we can go to the Olympics."

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