ESRA – Turkey U18 team retains European basketball crown

Turkey U18 team retains European basketball crownTurkeyandrsquos Under-18 national basketball team defended its title and won its second successive European title after thrashing Serbia 85-68 in the final of the FIBA Europe U-18 Championship in the Central Anatolian city of Konya on Sunday night.Dubbed as the golden generation of Turkish basketball, the nationandrsquos youth teams won their fourth European trophy of the past three years.

Turkey won the FIBA Europe U-16 Championship in 2012 before clinching consecutive trophies, winning both last year and this year Earlier this year, the Turkish U-20 national team brought home another European Championship cup.With its most recent trophy, Turkey became the second country to win the U18 European title for the second time in a row after Yugoslavia, which achieved this success in 1988.

On Thursday night, Egemen Guven of KarIIyaka was named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the tournament and he was also in the All-Tournament Team, which featured Federico Mussini of Italy, Stefan Lazarevic of Serbia, Vassilis Charalampopoulos of Greece and Dragan Bende of Croatia Four Turkey players reached double-digit figures in the match. Tolga Geim was the top scorer with 18 points.

Furkan Korkmaz and Okben Ulubay each added 15 and Egemen Guven tallied 12 for the victory. Stefan Peno scored 13 points in defeat.

Turkish Youth and Sports Minister Akif aIatay KIlI presented the trophy to the Turkish players during the award ceremony. He later issued a congratulatory message to the team for having won the trophy.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoIan called Turkish Basketball Federation (TBF) President Turgay Demirel to congratulate the national teamJob well doneThe architect of the success, coach mer UIurata, has now set his eyes on the World Championship. After the match, he told NTV, the broadcaster of the tournament, that his team has huge potential and it has great hopes for the 2015 FIBA U-19 World Championship.

andldquoItandrsquos a very special day for us because weandrsquore heading to the World Championship as the champion of Europe,andrdquo he said and continued, andldquoNext year at the World Championship and after in tougher events, this team, I think, will represent Turkey in the best way.andrdquoSpeaking about the tournament, UIurata said his players beat serious contenders for the title, including Croatia and Serbia andldquoThey proved how talented they are here [at this tournament],andrdquo he said.

The coach also thanked the people of Konya who supported the national team and the families of the national players, among others. Turkey dominated the whole game on Thursday night and nailed an excellent three-pointer percentage — 43.

5 percent — compared to the 18.8 percent of Serbia The winnersandrsquo shooting percentage also remained high — 46.

6 percent — as opposed to Serbiaandrsquos record of 34.4 percent.

Turkey had a storming start to the game and excelled on rebounds. In the first quarter, when the Serbia defense was poor and the teamandrsquos offense was largely ineffective, Turkey took a 25-11 lead.

Serbia made an impressive comeback while Turkey slowed down offensively in the second quarter Serbia reduced the deficit to under 10 points with less than two seconds left to halftime. Turkey netted 11 points in the second quarter — the same as the Serbia tally in the first quarterTurkey was even better in the third quarter, soon regaining a double-digit aantage.

A basket-plus-foul awarded to Turkey increased the margin to 13. Furkan scored from downtown and Okben added a two-pointer to nail a 5-0 run.

Egemen tallied an alley-oop two pointer, firing up his teammates and the crowd to give his side a 55-39 edge. Okben then scored a three pointer and a dunk by Furkan extended the aantage to 21, before Turkey took a 68-46 lead going into the last 10 minutes.

Serbia was rampant at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but it did not last long. Egemen made a dunk and then blocked a Serbia attack to slow down Turkeyandrsquos opponents.

YiIit Arslan netted from behind the three-point line to bring back the 20-point aantage with five minutes left to the final buzzer Turkey was unstoppable in the rest of the match and cruised to an 85-68 victory in the end.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman