Italy Keeps Playoff Hopes Alive With OT Win
Italy 84, Turkey 75 (OT)
- In a game that both teams desperately needed to win, Italy's youth brigade provided the late-game push over the brink to get past Turkey. Marco Belinelli, Angelo Gigli, & Andrea Bargnani all came up big in the 4th quarter & OT to allow Italy to hold off the one-man wrecking crew of Turkey that was otherwise known as Hedo Turkoglu (34 pts). Belinelli stepped up huge, scoring all of his 17 pts after the 4:00 mark of the 3rd, including a spectacular soaring flush over Hedo & Memo to tie the game with a minute left in regulation:
- Marco did damage mostly by shunning his jumper, and attacking the lane off the dribble. There are few in Europe who can keep Marco out of the lane when he chooses to use his superb physical gifts. Had 4-5 beautiful drives in the 2nd half (just like the previous game), including one where he snaked along the baseline for a lay-in. Coach Recalcati had Belinelli running the point down the stretch and basically let him go one-on-one up high. Marco really did not force too much and dished when his lanes were cut off. But he wasn't totally without fault, he jacked up a few bad shots per usual (including an ill-advised bomb in OT) and threw a careless pass late in OT that almost cost them dearly--Marco ended with 17 pts & 4 assts. Bargnani mixed up his offense better today by looking to work inside the arc more often instead of just launching jumpers. Andrea finished with 12 & 6, including a big 3pt. make in OT.
- For the second day in a row, we saw a team foul with a 2-point lead so they could have the last offensive possession (a seemingly bizarre but oft-used tactic in Europe). Turkey had Engin Atsur (NC State) foul Massimo Bulleri, which allowed Bulleri to tie the game at the foul line. Then Turkey got the last possession with 10 secs left, Hedo drew defenders off the dribble & made the right decision to dish off to a wide-open Ibo Kutluay in the corner for the win, but Ibo was just off the mark. You really can't ask for a better chance to win than a wide-open Kutluay, one of the deadliest shooters in Europe.
- This game effectively eliminated Turkey from the playoff round & snuffed out any chance of qualifying for Beijing. After some inspiring play last year, Turkey reverted back to its underachieving ways this year. Turkey is currently dead last out of 16 teams in FG% at 35.8%. They are 6% points lower than the next lowest 2nd round participant, Portugal. Also, dead last in FT% (57%), something that bit them in the ass today. 29% from the 3pt. line sure doesn't help Turkey's case either. Some might blame the presence of Memo & Hedo has ruined their chemistry, something that has been alluded to in the past. I can't really say if that was the case this year, but something was not quite right. If anything, you could put some of the blame on never really solving their PG situation, something we pointed to in our preview that could be an issue for Turkey.
- Have liked Angelo Gigli's activity on both the glass & the defensive end this whole tourney. But he's had a rough time trying to stay out of foul trouble so far. Fouls were not an issue today, and Gigli brought his usual strong defense & rebounding effort, but he added a little offense as well--hit a couple of 3pts, finished in the painted area with authority, & had a couple of nice post moves to boot (nice up & under in OT). 17 pts, 10 rebs (4 off), 3 blks & 2/5 from 3pt. land. Gigli is currently in the Top 10 in off. rebs, steals, & blocks for the tourney.
- Turkey really did not turn the ball over that much (14 TOs), it's just Italy only turned the ball over 3 times. This allowed Italy to shoot just 40.6% but still challenge because they got 12 more shot attempts. Turkey shooting 16/29 on FTs to Italy's 20/24 did not help the Turks cause either.
- Turkey started off the game red-hot, finishing the 1st quarter with 29 on 9/14 shooting. But production slowed down in the 2nd quarter, and Turkey ended up shooting 15/43 thru the next 3 quarters. And it was mosly just Hedo on offense in those quarters.
- Hedo Turkoglu had one of best individual performances of Euro '07 with 34 pts, 6 rebs, 4 assts on 10/16 (5/8 3pt). Hedo was a force, creating shots for himself or for his teammates off the bounce--most of his 3pts came off the dribble, a few step-backs thrown in. Problem was that no one else from Turkey joined the Hedo show, pretty much making it a one-man affair. Memo Okur was really the only other Turk of note, pitching in 10 & 9, but was 3/11 overall & he seemed to have carried over his poor shooting ways from the NBA playoffs to Euro '07--Memo is shooting just 18/56 for the tourney.
- Team Italia's victory sets up what amounts to a play-in game with Germany for the final playoff spot in Group F.