Friday, 13 July 2007

Canada Faces Turkish Side at Noon ET Today

After yesterday's tremendous second half performance shutting down Nigeria's big front line and Devoe Joseph's 33 points to lead all tournament scorers on the first day, Canada (1-0) looks to clinch a berth in the classification round of the FIBA U19 World Championships in Serbia as they tangle with Turkey. Turkey's junior programs are regarded among Europe's finest and the group that is representing at the FIBA U19's has several stars from their 2005 U16 European championship team. Turkey qualified for the FIBA U19 world championships with a fourth place finish in last summer's FIBA Europe qualifier (Gold: France; Silver: Lithuania; Bronze: Spain). Turkish basketball in general is on the rise as the country focuses on hosting the 2010 FIBA world championships and has began to produce fundamentally-sound players who can shoot the ball, make excellent decisions offensively and play solid team defence. In their opening game yesterday, the Turks (0-1) were unable to overcome 26 turnovers and 27.3% shooting including missing 16 of their last 18 shots from beyond the arc (5-21, 23.8% shooting from 3 overall), resulting in a 77-65 loss to Australia. The Turkish side has a pair of slick guards including 6'1" Dogus Balbay, (pictured) who averaged about 14 ppg last season at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire, leading his team to the state championship and signed a letter of intent with the Texas Longhorns of the NCAA Big 12 conference for this coming season. His back court partner is 6'0" Ismet Hacioglu, who primarily runs the point. Balbay (32 minutes) and Hacioglu (31 minutes) logged the majority of the time in the backcourt for Turkey yesterday and Balbay particularly struggled with 9 turnovers, although he did finish with 15 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists. The remainder of Turkey's 8 man rotation consists of big, strong kids who can shoot the ball and attack the offensive glass. 6'7" Can Ozcan, one of the stars of Turkey's U16 Euro championship team, can step out and shoot 3's and he made his first 3 from downtown yesterday but then cooled off after going to the bench in foul trouble, finishing with 11 points in only 17 minutes before fouling out. 6'9" Eyup Aydogan finished with 13 points for Turkey and had all 7 of his rebounds on the offensive glass. Others in the Turkish rotation include 6'6" Kerem Ozcan, a power forward, 6'8" Mesut Cipa, who had 6 points and 6 rebounds against Australia, 6'8" Burak Selen and three-point shooting specialist 6'6" Ogun Sevinc. Yesterday against a bigger, taller Nigerian side, Canada primarily went with a smaller lineup that created turnovers and transition opportunities but gave up a little on the defensive glass. With the size and strength of the Turkish front line and the apparent lack of depth in the backcourt, look for Canada to turn up the defensive pressure again. Best of luck to our Canadian side as we look to move forward in this tournament. The game begins at Noon Eastern time in Serbia.

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