ISTANBUL – This one went pretty much as expected. France kept it close for most of the first quarter, but Turkey pulled away in the second and cruised to 95-77 victory that puts them in the quarterfinals against Slovenia on Wednesday.
Turkey was the No. 1 defense in pool play (allowing just 81.1 points per 100 possessions), but it was their offense that was far more dominant on Sunday. France had one of the better defenses in pool play as well (eighth, 97.4 per 100), and they just couldn’t stop Turkey in this game.
The Turkish offense really hit its stride in the second quarter, and at one point in the third, Turkey had scored on 13 of its last 14 possessions. That was a 30-10 run that made this one a laugher.
Hedo Turkoglu shot the ball well (prompting a “Hedo is on FIRE!” call from the PA announcer after back-to-back threes to start the third) and led Turkey with 20 points. Sinan Guler came off the bench and blew by the French defense to the tune of 17 points on 8-for-10 shooting.
Turkey had a +29.8 point differential per 100 possessions in pool play, which put them just slightly behind the U.S. (+30.9) as the most dominant team in the tournament. They’ve got their (very loud) home crowd behind them for every game and it is no stretch to believe they can win gold. If they beat Slovenia on Wednesday, they would face the Serbia-Spain winner in the semifinals on Saturday.
Here are a few more notes from this one…
- Turkey starts each half playing man-to-man, but a couple of possessions later, they switch to zone and for the remainder. It’s a very aggressive zone, with the guards often defending the ball in the backcourt and sometimes looking to trap on the sidelines. The 7-foot-0 Omer Asik (who just might crack the Bulls’ rotation come October) takes up a lot of space in the middle, allowing the perimeter players to really stretch the zone out to the corners of the floor.
- Speaking of Asik… Even with Mehmet Okur sitting this World Championship out, Turkey has great depth at center. Asik is the starter, but he’s averaged only 19 minutes of playing time in Turkey’s six games. And that’s because he’s backed up by two more quality bigs, the Celtics’ Semih Erden and third-stringer Oguz Savas. All three guys move pretty well and finish strong at the rim. They combined for 24 points on 9-for-10 shooting against France, with Erden and Savas spending some time on the floor together.
- One issue for concern going forward: Turkey point guard Kerem Tunceri turned his ankle in the third quarter and did not return.
- The Blazers’ Nicolas Batum had the highlight of the round of 16 thus far, a fast-break dunk in the face of one of the Turkish big men early in the fourth.
- Every time I watch Boris Diaw, I marvel at what a great feel for the game he has. He was brilliant at times in this game, finishing with 21 points, five rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block. And at times, France solved the Turkish zone by just getting the ball to Diaw in the high post and letting him make a play. But Diaw also has those moments where he gets careless. He turned the ball over four times, once tossing the ball about 10 feet over the Turkey bench.
- Spurs draftee Nando de Colo had a strong game for France, finishing with 15 points on 5-for-8 shooting.
- The Mavs’ Ian Mahinmi fouled out with 7:48 to go in the third quarter, having played less than seven minutes.