Notes from TUR 95, SLO 68

ISTANBUL — Backed by a home crowd that just won’t stop singing, Turkey continues to roll through this tournament. And at this point, there’s no doubt that they have an excellent chance to win gold on their home floor come Sunday.

To get that chance, they’ll have to beat Serbia on Saturday night. But they should be strong favorites to do so after crushing Slovenia in the quarters, 95-68.

This looked like another one of those all-offense games early on, with each team getting off to a hot start. But Turkey stayed hot while holding Slovenia scoreless on its last seven possessions of the first quarter. The resulting 10-0 run gave them a 13-point lead heading into the second, and they had yet to use their vaunted 2-1-2 zone defense.

They finally went to the zone midway through the second quarter, with a big frontline of Kerem Gonlum (6-foot-10), Oguz Savas (6-foot-10) and Semih Erden (6-foot-11).

And that was nothing, because a couple of possessions later, they brought in Hedo Turkoglu to play shooting guard. So, with Ender Arslan at the point, they had a lineup that looked like this: 6-3, 6-10, 6-10, 6-10, 6-11.

That is HUGE. And all of those guys, with the exception of Savas, move well. The big Turkey zone was not used all that much on Wednesday, but it can be a dangerous defensive weapon in the final rounds of this tournament.

It certainly helps to shoot well against the zone. And Slovenia didn’t nearly as well from 3-point range on Wednesday (8-for-23) as they did on Sunday against Australia (16-for-33).

But high-post play is another key component. If you can get the ball into the middle of the zone (via dribble or pass), you will likely have an open shot or an open teammate under the basket. Boris Diaw was able to beat the zone a few times out of the high post on Sunday, and Slovenia did it on occasion on Wednesday.

Still, whether they’re playing man or zone, the Turkey defense is tough to crack. Slovenia shot just 36 percent from the field for the game, having shot 49 percent in its six games prior. This was the fifth most efficient offense in the tournament through Tuesday, and it got shut down.

The Turkey offense was another story. The home team simply couldn’t miss on Wednesday. They shot a ridiculous 18-for-25 in the first half and didn’t cool off much (14-for-23) in the second half.

  • Turkoglu took just five shots, but he dished out a game-high seven assists. Ersan Ilyasova got his stroke back, leading the way with 19 points on 7-for-9 from the field.
  • Three days after turning his ankle against France, Turkey point guard Kerem Tunceri seemed to be moving well. He scored 10 points and dished out four assists in 20 minutes of action.
  • The Celtics have a pretty good post passer in Erden. He had three assists in this game, and two of them were pretty slick. One was a touch pass from the high post to Ilyasova in the corner for a three. The other was a high-low dish to Savas for a layup.
  • I wrote on Sunday how Slovenia was very happy to make it to the final eight. And they’ve still got a chance to move up. They’ll play Spain in the first consolation bracket game on Friday. And the winner of that game would play the winner of the other consolation bracket game for fifth place on Saturday.
  • Once again, the Turkish crowd was as big a story as the play on the floor. The singing lasts from an hour before game time until after the players have left the floor. And tonight, there was even singing in the mix zone (the post-game interview area).


More USA Basketball coverage: Analysis | Blog

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for Send him an e-mail or follow him on twitter.


  1. Ilker says:

    Look at the turkish defense.
    I mean Tanjevic is a genious, who else plays defense with a 2-1-2 system or even 3-2 system with such an effort and this ´til the end.
    highlight of this slovenia game was, although it was just for a few minutes, the defensive line-up with four big guys (Savas,Gönlüm,Erden,Turkoglu). we will see this surely again late in the tournament and the turkish team has not yet finished its mission: GOLD

  2. Ahmet says:

    Listen everyone ! Turkey is marching for the gold. Our team is a great combination of young , highly skillful players and experienced players. I am 20 and this is the best turkish national team I have ever seen. Take a look at the shooting percentages. They are marvelous behind the arc. There is , of coruse , a rising star in this team. Ersan ILYASOVA. He starts as a power forward , then he may play as a shooting guard. He deserved many more minutes then he got last year in Milwakuee. I am sure that this year he will be a starter playing at least 35 mins. He will surpass the best Turkish player in NBA Hedo Turkoglu. Watch him closely this season !

  3. Batu says:

    I strongly feel that the officials will feel sorry for not including the heavy guns in the U.S. squad for the world championship. I believe that the Americans will make it to the finals, and defeated by Turkey dramatically… Than go back and assemble the big shots in another “dream team” for the next olympics…

    Its the World Championship, where is the patriotism that the americans pull out on every occasion? Where is LeBron? Where are Bosh, Wade?

    Kobe would have been here if it wasn’t for his injury. RESPECT.

  4. sikerim lan says:

    yes john as we turks say, ‘slovenyanin amina goduk’

  5. Oguz says:

    Thanks John, great analysis, I have one objection though. In the game on Sunday Turkey against France, Diaw was effective against the zone defense of Turkey in the high post, but that was mostly in the fourth quarter of the game, which was undecisive due to huge dominance of Turkey in the first three quarters. Against such a defence he didn’t have the chance to do so in the early quarters.

    Turkey plays so huge defensively (also offensively as well but the game strategy starts at the defence) that games are over at the end of second or third quarters (games against France and Slovenia).

    Honestly before the tournament I wasn’t expecting such a dominant play from Turkey, but I am now pretty sure that they will win the GOLD and I am very proud of being a turkish fan.

    I presume that the final game will be against Argentina, not USA.

  6. australia says:

    We proud of our basketball team.they great job .i am sure that we will get the title ( 2010 world championship )
    also thanks JOHN .you made great analysis

  7. zibona says:

    Go Turkey Go…!

  8. yavuz says:

    kardeşlerim abd yi yenelim işte o zaman amerikada göğsünüzü kabarta kabarta gezin.
    türklerin gücünü tüm dünya görsün.

  9. InuRfaCe says:

    The biggest weapon of turkey is their defence!
    I think they’re the only one, who could beat USA.
    Good Luck Turkey!!!

  10. tekin says:

    The crowd is more than loud enough, but it depends on how much volume of the sound the broadcaster let through. You need to be inside there to feel the noise. I’ve been in both NBA games (not OKC though) and games in Turkey. Turkish fans seem to be louder to me.

  11. Cinar says:

    Its pleasure to read your notes John….pure and detailed analysis…great job. Hope you having a great tournament in Istanbul. Also hoping to see US vs Turkey Final…..

  12. kans says:

    Hi John,well said. Just want to add a couple of points..

    In the Turkish team 9 players scored at least 4 or more points.
    The team scored 95 but only Ersan Ilyasova got a team high 9 !! shots making 7 of them.
    Even center Ömer Asik made 5 of his 8 freethrows. 🙂

    I think it was just a magical night where everything was like in dreams. I don’t remember such an Turkey-Slovenia game in the past 20 years.

  13. Mehmet says:

    @cherrypopper You are referring to James Goldstein. He was at the games from the beginning you can find some of his interviews about the championship on Youtube.

  14. cansu says:

    We proud of our basketball team! They’re great and they have great fans

  15. cherrypopper says:

    I noticed “the NBA’s biggest fan” (the skinny older fella with the big hat) at this game for the first time at this tournament. Was he at the previous games, too ?

  16. Fatih says:

    Excellent analysis John…You have left nothing behind for us to add…Congratulations Turkey…Way to go.

  17. tata says:

    The crowd was definitely behind Turkey, but they were not even as loud as an OKC home crowd.

  18. utku says:

    We respect to Serbia but this time we want it MORE than them and we want to sing the championship songs after the match.. GO TÜRKİYE… GO “12 DEV ADAM” (12 huge men)…