Spain did not expect this battle. Nobody expected this battle. Another creative coaching effort from Ufuk Sarica backed up by a great display by Furkan Korkmaz saw Turkey give Spain a fright before the favourites eventually advanced in EuroBasket 2017. Emmet Ryan on a tight battle in the Sinan Erdem Dome
The odds were against them and the situation was grim. Turkey didn’t care before tip. Their fans were on for this one with a loud crowd ready for battle. They knew the Latvia game was all about avoiding Spain. They had missed that shot. Now here they were facing the reigning European champions who had easily the most loaded roster of any at EuroBasket 2017. Spain are used to facing hostile crowds and silencing them. Spain have the talent, the poise, and the speed to take down any foe any way they want. Spain were not going to be intimidated by any arena.
Ufuk Sarica is never an man to tire of wrinkles and he had a big one here. For the first time all tournament he started Semih Erden and Sertac Sanli together to pair them up against Pau and Marc Gasol. Sarica went beyond size, he took the reins off Sanli, allowing the big guy to take his shots rather than be a pure irritation in the paint. Sarica wanted to give Sergio Scariolo as much to think about as possible, just like he had perplexed Sasa Djordjevic a few nights ago.
The approach certainly slowed Spain’s offence. Despite a nice opening, the European champions struggled to create decent looks in the first quarter. Turkey however were plenty off on offence themselves. Spain also had that bench they could learn on. When Juan Carlos Navarro sat, in came Sergio Rodriguez. Then Juancho Hernangomez stepped in for Fernando San Emeterio. It’s that abundance of riches that enables Scariolo to just wear teams out early. When Baris Hersek stepped in for Sanli, Spain immediately went to Pau twice and he drew fouls of Hersek both times. You never know who Spain is going to hurt you with. Chacho nailed one from deep and the Turkiye chants died down a bit. Spain had already gone 10 deep on their roster before the end of the first. After 10 minutes they led 19-10.
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Sarica went to the three amigos of Cedi Osman, Furkan Korkmaz, and Kenan Sipahi, for a burst of energy to start the second. Throughout this competition this trio had been able to hustle and run at teams like hell but their efficiency was unreliable. Putting them out together was an issue and Sarica only went with it for little over a minute before opting for a more conventional line-up.
Defensively Turkey were forcing more out of Spain but they couldn’t get anything going on their own part. A Pau three brought Spain their first double digit lead of the competition and Sarica called in the troops. He went even slow, leaving Korkmaz as the one pure speed merchant out there. If running with Spain wasn’t going to work, Sarica wanted to see if he could force a more manageable pace.
Korkmaz was able to trade buckets with the Spanish but the slowdown game simply didn’t offer enough containment on D. Fortunately for Sarica, some comical finishing at the rim by the Spanish meant the favourites didn’t actually do much with their opportunities. With little headway being made it was finally time for Scariolo to take a moment to pause.
Sinannnnn ✈️Furkan Korkmazzzzz 💥pic.twitter.com/kdNd2eul0K
— Fersu Yahyabeyoğlu (@fersudeniz) September 10, 2017
Korkmaz was lit. If this was going to be his last game in Istanbul before linking up with the Philadelphia 76ers, he was going to leave the people here wanting more. A three, a big board, he was rolling. Sinan Guler was deferring to him to lead the offence. A exuberant outlet pass to Osman and Turkey were within 4. Spain however were patient. Once Korkmaz sat they got right back on Turkey late in the half. After 20 minutes Spain were on top, 33-25.
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The third started slowly and what looked like Ricky Rubio dragging back Goksenin Koksal with his leg on a loose ball incensed the arena. No foul was called and the play slowed once more. Turkey were looking to run with Korkmaz and Osman but nobody out there seemed all to keen to push it hard.
Finally an Osman three got things going in the second half. Korkmaz drove. Marc swatted and Pau recovered. No matter, here he came again to draw three free throws from Ricky Rubio. All three nailed and Spain were under pressure. Scariolo didn’t want to get drawn into a low-scoring defensive struggle, not just here but at any stage in the competition. Spain’s greatest asset is their ability to run teams off the floor with their scoring. Turkey were keeping this one in Big 10 regular season territory.
Spain looked to the inside, using Marc to test Turkey’s patience. First a speedy finish at the rim and then he drew a foul off Sanli that was followed up with a second technical of the game for Sarica and his ejection. Spain weren’t exactly efficient with the free money. Sarica’s men were dodging bullets out there even without him to guide them. With 10 minutes to go this was most definitely a game. Spain were up 49-43 courtesy of a Chacho three on the buzzer but they were far from comfortable.
Spain were fine going slow to start the fourth. Patiently they picked their spots. That Chacho three had calmed them as they stretched back out a little more. Korkmaz put the hammer down again. Turkey couldn’t let Spain get cosy, they had to force mistakes. Korkmaz again. Spain’s comfort zone was gone.
Spain’s bench reacted a little too wildly to Rubio’s answer from deep, knocking over the advertising hoarding in front of their bench to pause the game. It was the moment of calm Spain needed. Another couple from the line put them up 11 as the game entered its closing stages.
That was the end of Turkey. They had fought wisely but it wasn’t enough. Spain advance.
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