The last 16 of EuroBasket 2022 opens with an absolute monster match-up as Turkey take on France at high noon on Saturday for a place in Tuesday’s quarter finals.
All games from now on are at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin, Germany
12.00 CEST, 11.00 BST, 06.00 EST, 03.00 PST
How they got here
Turkey went 3-2 in Group A with wins over Montenegro, Bulgaria, and Belgium but also suffered a pair of close losses to Spain. That was good enough for second place while France finished with a 3-2 record in Group B, picking up wins over Lithuania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Hungary while bookending group play with a bad loss to Germany on opening day and a narrow defeat to Slovenia in their last group game.
Need to know
Turkey’s campaign has been messy, to say the least. Ergin Ataman’s side barely overcame Montenegro on the opening day and their clash with Georgia was marred by all sorts of shenanigans and fights on and off the court including both Furkan Korkmaz and Ataman being ejected. Worst of all, they couldn’t close out against a Spain side that has looked anything but impressive so far.
France have moved on, clearly, from that awful performance against Germany and showed their grit and athleticism grow over the course of their remaining four games in group play. They’re exactly what you expect with Evan Fournier and Rudy Gobert doing the lion’s share of work but Thomas Heurtel, a volatile player at the best of times, has proven a valuable contributor with 7.2 assists per game.
The route to victory
Turkey need two things above all else: A lot more scoring from Korkmaz and for Shane Larkin to be at 100 per cent. Larkin was awful in the last game but Turkey need him at his best for this game or at least close to fully ready.
UPDATE: Shane Larkin is out for the remainder of the tournament, so that makes things a lot more complicated than they already were when I wrote the above sentence.
We also need to see one thing that is bizarrely absent, chemistry. Ataman’s a fiery character but, no matter the calibre of roster, he’s always found a way to get his teams both with Turkey and at club level to play the basketball he wants them to play. He shapes his game around the players he has and adds his own instincts to it. It’s normally really effective but we haven’t seen it so far.
France basically need to keep the energy they showed in the loss to Slovenia and keep on rolling. Fewer sleepy moments from Rudy Gobert will help too as he is an enormous edge for France in the paint with Sertac Sanli’s role for Turkey as much to match him in offensive production for Turkey as it is to limit what Gobert does himself in the paint. There’s a clear athleticism edge for France so if they keep this game suited to their strengths, they will be a in a good place.
Ataman is already fighting the off the court battle hard, complaining about the tip time being too early for Turkish fans to get in. When it comes to the mental games, he’s got an obvious edge over Vincent Collet. The France coach has a great resume littered with his teams failing more often than winning when it mattered most.
Heurtel’s defence, or rather the lack thereof and his ball security issues, is also a big thing to watch in this game as Turkey will be sure to try and get inside his head early and often.
BallinEurope is ramping up its YouTube game this season. Subscribe to our channel now for player exclusives, analysis videos, and much more.
What do the bookies say?
France are 3/10 favourites while Turkey are 16/5. The point spread favours France by -8.5.
What do we say?
That the bookies have got this one almost perfect in terms of how they’ve gauged it to be honest. Had Turkey beaten Spain, I think things would look really difference but there hasn’t been a performance to make me believe in them in this tournament despite the talent they have.
France to win and cover.