Kurtoglu Helps Turkey Outlast Lithuania in Overtime
SAITAMA, Japan, Aug. 31 (Ticker) -- After Saitama Super Arena literally shook, Turkey delivered a stirring performance of its own.
The Turks rallied from a five-point deficit late in regulation before erupting in overtime for a 95-84 triumph over Lithuania.
Just minutes after an earthquake hit Saitama - it registered 4.8 on the Richter scale - Turkey showed the kind of resilience that helped it make an improbable run to the quarterfinals.
With both sides out of medal contention, Turkey (6-2) won the classificiation game and advances to play France for fifth place. Lithuania (4-4) faces Germany for seventh place.
The Turks trailed, 74-69, with 28 seconds left in regulation after a layup by Washington Wizards forward Darius Songaila but sliced the deficit to 75-72 on a layup by North Carolina State's Engin Atsur and a free throw by Ender Arslan.
Arslan missed his second foul shot but tracked down the ball in the right corner and launched a 3-pointer that went in to knot the score at 75-75 with nine seconds left.
With a chance to win the game, Lithuania's Mantas Kalnietis lost the ball out of bounds. But Ermal Kurtoglu missed a shot at the end of regulation, sending the game into overtime.
Kurtoglu opened the extra session with a short jumper and a 3-pointer to make it 80-75.
Lithuania's Arvydas Macijauskas closed the gap to 81-80 with a pair of free throws, but Milwaukee Bucks center Ersan Ilyasova replied with a jumper, then came up with a steal and passed to Kurtoglu for a breakaway dunk for an 85-81 lead.
"I think we put our heart out and we deserved the win because we worked very hard from the beginning of the preparations in early July and basically we've been away from home for about 50 days," Ilyasova said. "But it's worth it. When you come here and you're able to play for fifth place, it's really worth it."
Kurtoglu poured in 24 points and Arslan added 18 for Turkey, which shot 45 percent (31-of-68) from the floor. The Turks were outscored, 17-4, in the second quarter but made up for it with a 35-point fourth quarter and 20-point OT.
Songaila scored 17 points to lead Lithuania (4-4), which also shot 45 percent (24-of-53) but committed a crippling 28 turnovers, a problem throughout the tournament.
"The way we're playing right now, we're going to have to fix a lot of things if we want to finish seventh," center Robertas Javtokas said.