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Turkey national team celebrating victory over Slovenia after 1/8 finals game of the 2006 FIBA World Championship. (26.08.06)
26/08/2006Game Report Turkey vs Slovenia 90-84, EIGHT-FINALS
SAITAMA (FIBA World Championship) - Serkan Erdogan's four free throws in the final 13.4 seconds secured Turkey a 90-84 victory over Slovenia to advance into the quarter-finals of the 2006 FIBA World Championship.

Erdogan scored 15 of his game-high 24 points in the fourth quarter as Turkey closed the game on a 16-5 run over the final 3:38, setting up a Saitama showdown with Argentina, who beat New Zealand 79-62 earlier in the day.

"We take it step-by-step and haven't been thinking about Argentina. But now we will, and we'll give everything because we have nothing to lose," said Kaya Peker, who scored 10 points.

"We're in the last eight, this is an unbelievable feeling. Everybody was talking about us, saying we're not such a good team."

The victory secures Turkey's best result at a FIBA World Championship after taking ninth place in 2002 in Indianapolis.

"I am very proud of these guys because they made a great fight not only today but since day one," Turkish coach Bogdan Tanjevic said.

Cenk Akyol scored 11 points and Kerem Gonlum collected 11 points and eight rebounds off the bench. Engin Atsur buried two crucial three-pointers in the final four minutes for his only two baskets of the game.

Slovenia out-rebounded the Turks 38-28 but shot 47 percent compared to 54 percent for Turkey. Ales Pipan's team also struggled from the foul line, hitting just 21 of 35 free throws.
"We struggled from the free throw line, I don't know how many shots we missed but certainly, that killed us," said Sani Becirovic, who was a perfect 5-of-5 for the game in scoring 13 points and grabbing eight rebounds.

"Turkey shot incredible three pointers in the last minutes of the game and they have a strong team and a very good coach."

Beno Udrih scored a team-high 18 points while Radoslav Nesterovic and Bostjan Nachbar each added 14 points and Primoz Brezec had 10.

"It's impossible to win when you lose concenation in the last minutes and miss so many free throws," Pipan said. "We have very good players and they are playing in big clubs. But many of them don't spend much time on court when the games are decided. Maybe that's one of the main reasons that we lose all the time in big games."

Turkey started the game riding the broad shoulders of Fatih Solak, who scored two points, blocked two shots and altered another in the first two minutes of the game as Tanjevic's team pulled ahead 6-1. Marko Milic's three-point play made it 7-6 for the FIBA World Championship first-timers.

Neither team could pull away, but Slovenia shot themselves in the foot as Nachbar missed three foul shots in the final 1:28 of the first quarter. Turkey were ahead 20-19 after the period.

The lead went back and forth, and the game was tied at 33-33.

Erdogan and Gonlum, filling in for the injured Ersan Ilyasvoa, each scored four points as Turkey used an 11-1 run to open a 44-34 lead with 31 seconds left. The Slovenians again failed to execute, as they grabbed offensive rebounds on two straight possessions and were unable to score before Nachbar and Goran Jurak combined for three missed free throws.

The Turks were ahead 44-38 at the break.

Gonlum's three-point play made it 49-40 with 7:12 to go in the third before Becirovic's own three-point play completed a 13-3 run for a 53-52 Slovenia lead.

With Turkey ahead 60-56, Udrih's jumper and Nachbar's dunk pulled things even 60-60 going into the fourth.

Erdogan got ahead for a break-away layup for a 71-67 Turkey advantage with 7:12 remaining only to see Nesterovic's hook give the Slovenians a 74-71 advantage.

Turkey appeared ready to turn the ball over on a shot clock violation, but Atsur hit a three-pointer as the buzzer went off, tieing the game at 74-74. Just a minute later he hit another three-pointer - this one well behind the line - to pull Turkey within 79-77.

"He (Engin Atsur) doesn't have a big experience at international level, but he's got a big heart and you see that on the court today," Erdogan said of Atsur.

Erdogan then buried back-to-back treys, followed by one from Peker to push Turkey ahead 86-81 with 1:36 remaining.

Brezec put back an offensive rebound and Atsur commited a turnover with 26 seconds left. But Slovenia's final comeback hopes were dashed when Nachbar missed a three-pointer with 18 seconds left. Erdogan made both free throws with 13 seconds remaining and drained two more with 4.8 seconds to ice the game.

By David Hein, FIBA