BILBAO, SPAIN – Turkey rallied from an early deficit to defeat New Zealand 76-73 in the Group C opener here Saturday with New Orleans Pelicans center Omer Asik logging just 10 minutes for the winners.
Asik’s minutes were limited due to the style of play, according to Turkey’s coach Ergin Ataman, who suggested New Zealand’s style of play will cause problems for anyone in the FIBA World Cup, including the U.S., who boast a roster with four big men 6-foot-10 or taller for the first time in the Mike Krzyzewski era.
“[Asik] is fine,” Ataman said when asked if there was a reason Asik played just 10 minutes and 30 seconds. “New Zealand doesn’t play like any other team in Europe. The quickness for the big men is an issue. So Asik did not play as much. That will be an issue for other teams, including the United States.”
Playing small in recent international competitions was simply a part of the program for Krzyzewski, who always finds ways to adjust his lineups and rotations depending on how he wants his team to play. Coach K and his staff have seen every scheme imaginable during his tenure, so whatever they see here should not surprise them.
And Turkey needed Asik’s rim protecting help, even if it came in limited minutes, to rally in the first half against New Zealand. He scored just one point but blocked two shots and altered a couple of others before Turkey settled into a groove.
They closed the game on a 15-1 run to complete the comeback, negating Corey Webster‘s 22-point game for New Zealand.
The U.S. plays New Zealand Tuesday.
UKRAINE 72, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 62: Pooh Jeter scored a team-high 16 points to lead the Mike Fratello-coached Ukraine team past the Dominican Republic in the Group C opening game here in Bilbao.
Slava Kravstov added 13 points and Sergi Gladyr 12 for the Ukraine. Francisco Garcia (Houston Rockets) led the Dominican Republic with 18 points.