The first day of Quarter-Finals action was one to remember, with an epic finish in one game, and a potential challenger to Team USA emerging in the other.
The first quarter of the game was a 3-Point scoring battle. Both teams were rotating it around the perimeter, and unless ther was a clear lane, they didn't attempt to score inside or entrust a big man with the ball in the paint.
The second quarter involved a lot of second-stringers, as both teams threw in a lot of the backups, which led to two minutes of stagnation and no scoring. But, eventually Nenad Krstic got a open jumper. He was the focus of the second-team offense, with several post up attempts and mid-range jumpers set for him. But he wasn't making a lot of headway, due to great defense from Fran Vasquez in the paint. Still, Serbia was getting a lead in the high single digits, mainly due to bad shot selection from Spain. But any time it looked like Serbia was going to pull away, Spain would respond with a three. Serbia was getting more points in the paint, but they only hit 6 of 12 free throws. In all honesty, Spain would need to diversify their offense in order to win this game. Serbia led at the half.
Serbia went three minutes without scoring to start out the second half, while Spain continued to rain down threes. The rest of the quarter was more back and forth, though Serbia was starting to do a good job of establishing a presence inside. X Velijkovic was the reason for that. He was having his best game of the tournament, beating the defense to get easy layups and hitting some nice threes.
Below: The Amazing Finish, A Turkish Whirlwind of Threes
Serbia slowly got out to a 7 Point lead in the fourth quarter, and Spain, yet again, was left with the job of catching up. They had the lead down to 5 with about 3 minutes to go, but a free throw by Krstic, a bad turnover by Navarro, and a open jumpshot by Serbia pushed that to a 8 point margin. Spain got it back to within 4 with a couple of drives to the basket (after Bjelica had fouled out for Serbia, opening up the lane a bit). After a long, messy possession for Serbia, Spain got out on the break and had Fernandez score an easy basket.
But, out of the time out, Marko Kelsic (who had hit threes all night) hit a extremely tough three, and was equaled by Navarro. After a lot of missed points by both teams, Marc Gasol was able to get a mismatch and dunk the ball over Teodosic, tieing the game at 89 with 25.8 seconds left. Then, out of the timeout, Teodosic held the ball near mid-court. Then, after going 1 of 7 from beyond the arc all game, he hit a deep three from the top of the arc to put Serbija up by 3 with 3.1 seconds left. Spain called a timeout to advance it to half-court. Garbajosa got the ball on the inbounds and went straight for the three point line, but fumbled the ball and Spain's title hopes, leaving Serbia victorious.
Turkey really asserted their dominance in the first quarter. Though an even game at first, Turkey blew it open with their superior three point shooting. It wasn't that Slovenia was playing bad defense, it's just that Turkey was able to hit tough shots. Slovenia bricked it's threes and hit of a lull. Then, pandemonium broke out as both Ilyasova and Turkoglu got open dunks.
The second quarter started well for Slovenia, with Uros Slokar cutting to the hoop for an easy dunk. But that's where the greatness ended for Slovenia. Turkey continued to hit some amazing deep 3s, Ilyasova especially. When the dust settled, Turkey had about a 20 Point lead, and even though Slovenia started to battle back, it seemed hopeless. Not because 20 Points is an insurmountable lead to overcome in the span of 25 minutes of basketball, but because Turkey was doing so well. 31 Points is about par for the course as far as FIBA games go, but 50 Points at the half is just insane. I know Team USA has done it before, but that was against Angola. Turkey is playing a defensively-adept Slovenia team, which makes the accomplishment hold that much more weight.
Turkey had shot an amazing 71% from the floor, and 73% from 3 Point Range in the first half.. They also had 15 Assists.
The rest of the game was just the playing out of a pre-destined end. Turkey never got their lead up to 0, but they were never in danger of losing their lead either, matching Slovenia point-for-point and moving on to the next round.
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