Posts Tagged ‘Kerem Tunceri’

FIBA Update: Spain Upset, Puerto Rico Stays Unbeaten

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HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – Thursday was a big day in FIBA qualifications, with the second round of FIBA Americas getting started and Day 2 at Eurobasket seeing a thrilling upset.

Down goes Spain

The story of the day was Slovenia coming back from 10 points down to beat Eurobasket favorite Spain. The Suns’ Goran Dragic led the way for the tournament’s hosts, registering 18 points, six rebounds, seven assists and two steals.

The game was more important for Slovenia, who now looks like a strong candidate to earn one of Europe’s six automatic berths to next year’s World Cup, than Spain. The two-time defending Euro champs have finished first (2011 Eurobasket, 2009 Eurobasket, 2006 World Championship) or second (2012 Olympics, 2008 Olympics, 2007 Eurobasket) in six of their last seven international competitions (the exception being the 2010 World Championship), despite losing preliminary-round games in almost all of them.

But there wasn’t any clear gamesmanship on Spain’s part. Marc Gasol played all but three minutes on Thursday.

Down to the wire

Slovenia-Spain was a great game, and it wasn’t the only thriller on Thursday. Latvia edged Montenegro on a jumper by Kristaps Janicenoks in the final seconds, Croatia beat Georgia on a Ante Tomic, pick-and-roll layup, and Belgium outlasted Germany in overtime.

The ends of these FIBA games can be really fun, because there are fewer timeouts in the final possessions. You’re not allowed to call a timeout on a live ball.

What happened to Turkey?

As someone who witnessed Turkey’s magical run to the 2010 World Championship gold medal game first-hand, it’s disappointing to see how much they’ve fallen off. They’ve been a mess offensively without long-time point guard Kerem Tunceri (whose absence on the roster was the coach’s decision, according to my Turkish friends on twitter) and with Hedo Turkoglu and Ersan Ilyasova combining to shoot 11-for-38 (29 percent).

More disappointing is the Turkish defense, which was dominant in 2010 and has allowed about 108 points per 100 possessions in their two games this week. With their size, they can extend their 2-3 zone out beyond the 3-point line, but they didn’t really go to it until the third quarter on Thursday. And when they did, Italy just picked it apart.

The good news for Turkey is that Hedo’s tan looks fabulous.

Greece back on top

The bad news for Turkey is that, after a day off, they next face Greece, who has the tournament’s best point differential after two games. Greece had a couple of down years (they didn’t qualify for last year’s Olympics), but has looked strong in wins over Sweden and Russia.

Greece is one of seven unbeaten teams. The most surprising of the seven has to be Finland, who has been led by former first-round pick Petteri Koponen. Also unbeaten is the Ukraine, coached by TNT’s Mike Fratello.

Big wins for Canada, Puerto Rico

While Spain can brush off Thursday’s loss, every game at the FIBA Americas tournament is critical right now, because the top four teams after this round of games will earn the automatic bids to next year’s World Cup of Basketball.

So Canada’s 89-67 win over Mexico, putting them in second place with three games to play, was huge. The Spurs’ Cory Joseph, now averaging 16.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 5.8 assists, has been one of the best players in the tournament.

Also big was Puerto Rico’s win over Argentina. Puerto Rico trailed by 16 midway through the second quarter, but came back and took control with a 13-0 run late in the third. They haven’t clinched a top-four spot just yet, but as the only undefeated team in the tournament, they’re in great shape.

Former Knick and Nugget Renaldo Balkman has been huge for P.R., averaging 20.6 points and 8.4 boards through five games.

Action in FIBA Americas and Eurobasket continues Friday.

2014 World Cup of Basketball field

No. Team Qualified
1 Spain Host
2 USA 2012 Olympic champion
3 Iran FIBA Asia champion
4 Philippines FIBA Asia 2nd place
5 Korea FIBA Asia 3rd place
6 Australia FIBA Oceania champion
7 New Zealand FIBA Oceania 2nd place
8 Angola FIBA Africa champion
9 Egypt FIBA Africa 2nd place
10 Senegal FIBA Africa 3rd place
11 FIBA Americas champion
12 FIBA Americas 2nd place
13 FIBA Americas 3rd place
14 FIBA Americas 4th place
15 Eurobasket champion*
16 Eurobasket 2nd place*
17 Eurobasket 3rd place*
18 Eurobasket 4th place*
19 Eurobasket 5th place*
20 Eurobasket 6th place*
21 Wildcard
22 Wildcard
23 Wildcard
24 Wildcard

* If Spain finishes in the top six, the seventh place team will qualify.

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.

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Notes from Turkey 95, France 77

Hedo appreciates the love from the home crowd. (Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images)

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…

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