Turkey Edges Slovenia
Turkey 90, Slovenia 84
SAITAMA, Japan, Aug. 26 (Ticker) -- SAITAMA, Japan (Ticker) -- Serkan Erdogan scored 15 of his 24 points in a sensational fourth quarter as Turkey advanced to the quarterfinals of the World Championships with a hard-fought 90-84 victory over Slovenia.
Kerem Gonlum and Cenk Akyol added 11 points apiece for the Turks (5-1), who again played without Milwaukee Bucks center Ersan Ilyasova but nevertheless will face powerful Argentina (6-0) in the round of eight Tuesday.
"We take it step-by-step and haven't been thinking about Argentina," said Turkey's Kaya Peker, who scored 10 points. "But now we will, and we'll give everything because we have nothing to lose."
The victory secured Turkey's best result at a World Championship after taking ninth in 2002 at Indianapolis. It has been done without NBA stars Mehmet Okur and Hedo Turkoglu, who are not playing for the national team in this tournament.
"I am very proud of these guys because they made a great fight not only today but since day one," Turkey coach Bogdan Tanjevic said.
"We're in the last eight. This is an unbelievable feeling," Peker said. "Everybody was talking about us, saying we're not such a good team."
Turkey shot 54 percent (32-of-59) from the field, including 7-of-16 from 3-point range. The Group C runner-up also connected on 19-of-22 free throws as compared to just 21-of-35 for Slovenia.
Turkey held a 44-36 halftime at halftime but was outscored, 24-16, in the third quarter to head into the final period in a 60-60 deadlock. That's when Erdogan took over, scoring 14 points capped by two huge 3-pointers down the stretch and four free throws in the final 13 seconds to seal the victory.
Ender Arslan also made two crucial 3-pointers in the final four minutes - his only two baskets of the game - as the Turks outscored the Slovenians, 16-5, over the final 3:38.
Beno Udrih of the San Antonio Spurs scored 18 points while New Jersey Nets forward Bostjan Nachbar and Toronto Raptors center Rasho Nesterovic contributed 14 apiece for Slovenia (2-4), which bowed out of its first World Championship.
Slovenia held a 38-28 rebounding edge but uncharacteristically made just 21-of-35 free throws.
"We struggled from the free-throw line," said Sani Becirovic, who made 5-of-5 free throws and scored 13 points. "I don't know how many shots we missed but certainly, that killed us."
"It's impossible to win when you lose concentration in the last minutes and miss so many free throws," Slovenia coach Ales 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."
A hook by Nesterovic gave the Slovenians a 74-71 advantage. North Carolina State's Engin Atsur beat the shot clock with a 3-pointer and moments later drained another from well behind the line to pull Turkey within 79-77.
"(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.
Erdogan sank back-to-back 3-pointers followed by one from Peker to give Turkey an 86-81 lead with 1:36 remaining.
Charlotte Bobcats center Primoz Brezec had a follow shot and Atsur commited a turnover with 26 seconds left, giving Slovenia a chance to tie. But Nachbar missed a 3-pointer and Erdogan made two free throws with 13 seconds remaining and two more with 4.8 seconds left.