Emir Preldzic came up big when it mattered and the cardiac kids of the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup survived yet again, writes Emmet Ryan.
Opening tip here in Palau Sant Jordi was delayed by 10 minutes due to questions over the height of the hoop at the media tribune end. When the game finally began Matthew Dellavedova got things under way for the Boombers with a three. Turkey, who struggled from the field throughout their time in Bilbao, had some early success through Ender Arslan. It was largely tit for tat as Sinan Guler kept up Turkey’s paret of the bargain from the field before Joe Ingles went coast to coast on a lay-up.
The gremlins flared up again at the same end as the Aussies led 10-9 with 4.46 to go in the first quarter. The issue, with the shot clock at the media tribune end of the Palau Sant Jordi required another stoppage of 10 minutes before we finally got going properly here in Barcelona. The pause took some wind out of both sides and it took another few minutes for the offences to get going. It was the Boomers who made slightly more of it, holding an 18-15 lead at the end of the quarter.
The offensive sturggles that had hurt Turkey throughout the group stages were constantly threatening to resurface but just when it looked like Ergin Ataman’s side would hit a valley period, Guler or Kerim Tunceri would step up to get them moving again. Guler was cutting to the rim with regularity and Australia had no answer. The Boomers offence was stuttering along and the fluidity that had guided them through the opening frame was gone. Aron Baynes hooked in a lay-up to slow the Turkish momentum a tad but on the next possession Omer Asik pounded Brock Motum hard, making the bucket. At the half it was still the Aussies on top but by the minmimum, 35-34.
Turkey had stunted the Aussie offence in the second quarter but as the third start it looked like the Boomers had their groove back. First Dellavedova made a three and then Ingles drew a technical from Tunceri, making the shot in the process. A Baynes dunk on the subsequent possession pushed Australia into a 10 point lead. Another technical for Turkey, this time on Ataman, and the Boomers were ready to make their move. Turkey however managed to stop the bleeding before it got out of hand and rallied slightly to get back within touching distance. The Turks had finally started to make their presence in the inside count and then Emir Preldzic, a passenger all evening until this point, made a three to cut the gap further. With 10 minutes to play Turkey were right in it, down 50-46.
Arslan immediately cut the deficit to the minimum from deep and Australia turned to Baynes and Dellavedova to bring some life back to an offence that had lost its spark. The Boomners had the chance to create breathing room from the line but couldn’t make it count. Instead Guler, having quietened somewhat from his earlier explosion, cut into the deficit before Arslan one again cut the deficit to the minimum with a three. With oodles of time to go and far from intense defensive pressure, both offences rushed too much. It led to painfully slow tit for tat play before Dellavedova made it a two-possession game with 1.02 to go.
Then Emir Preldzic made a three. The Boomers coughed the ball up again on a shot clock violation. Then Emir went full swag for the win.
Australia can only blame themselves. They had the chance to put Turkey away but they allowed hope to creep in and that’s a dangerous thing with Ergin Ataman’s team.
Turkey, who have now been revived from the dead in three games out of the four they have won, escaped yet again with a 65-64 win and Turkey advance to play Lithuania on Tuesday.