Turkey and Russia played a basketball game on Friday night that broke BiE editor Emmet Ryan’s brain. Relive the bat out of who cares where insanity from the final game of opening night in Istanbul. Just, well, you may need a drink handy before you delve into his efforts to explain how Russia beat Turkey on the opening night of Group D at EuroBasket 2017
Well it was loud. It was fast. But it’s hard to say the first quarter was actually much good. There was running. So much running. Everyone wanted to run. Turkey for their rabid, if far from house-filling (this is what you get when you schedule a game on a religious holiday) home crowd, and Russia because those gold numbers and trim only belong to a team that wants to run. The actually play however was horrendously disjointed even with the max Dad player that is Sinan Guler on the floor. Baris Hersek looked up for this, he doesn’t get a role so prominent so often and he really wanted to show his old gaffer Ufuk Sarica that he was up for it. The man however for the 12 Dev Adam (12 Giant Men) was definitely Cedi Osman.
Osman loves to run. Like really loves it. This manic what on earth is happening pace is definitely his jam and he was loving it early. Just going up the floor ball in hand or running out onto the wing making what should be an open corner three into a contested pull up three, that he still made. That’s Cedi, he’s at his smoothest when everything is going at 100 miles per hour.
We had to wait a couple of minutes for the dream clash of Semih Erden vs Timofey Mosgov. More importantly, Alexey Shved was so very Shved. There isn’t a shot he doesn’t like. He’s like what happens if Nando de Colo was made from amphetamines. Just give him the ball and he’s off shooting. The three guard set suits Russia but it feels almost necessary when you’ve got a gunner like that on the floor. He did get 9 points in his first shift on 2 of 3 shooting so he clearly had some idea what he was doing. At the end of the first Russia led 20-15. This was a stupid but enjoyable 10 minutes of basketball.
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Turkey were looking all too predictable as the pace slowed. The speed had hid the obviousness of Turkey’s defence and once it dropped a tick, Russia were all over them. Erden went on a help move that could be seen from across the Bosphorous and Mosgov was there for the wide open easy finish. Russia had gone from being caught in a bizarre disjointed track meet to being up by double digits and looking far smarter than than the home side.
This was Vitaly Fridzon ball from Russia and it was working. Fridzon, a luxury as the fifth guard on CSKA’s roster, is the calm but quick brain to catch all the crazy that drips Shved as he tries to rip the space time continuum. Fridzon is used to working alongside intense team mates, having Milos Teodosic as a co-worker for the bulk of your prime years is a good education, so he was more than capable of doing a wilder version of that job with Shved.
Ufuk Sarica is quite good at hiding weakness however, often with creative use of the very young and very old (shoutout to Soner Senturk on the latter). Here it was the insertion of Furkan Korkmaz, looking to prove he’s worth a full roster spot with the Sixers and not to have to detour via Delaware. He came hot in his first stint, working off Kenan Sipahi and Osman to try and get that spark back. The three amigos got the run going and even managed to give us room for two Erden dunks. Nice of the youngsters. The madness was back. Korkmaz had brought the madness back to the floor.
Shved threw a behind the back pass out of bounds. Of course he did. Then he nailed a three. This is Shved. You must learn to love him for what he is for he will never change. Kobe passes more than Shved. The winner of Mastermind passes more than Shved. When Shved shoots, he can point to what happened when he passed. It went out of bounds. He might as well shoot.
Andrey Vorontsevich did everything he could to not foul Osman as the latter went for a lay-up, he still couldn’t get out of the way in time. And 1. This is the basketball. We are no longer watching a game, we are witnessing nonsense of the highest order and it is really is entertaining. There happens to be a ball there and men are doing things that vary from awfully great to awful in a great way and this is all that matters.
Shved stands waiting to return as Mosgov goes to take some generously earned free throws. Shved’s snarling or possibly smiling, he’s close enough to see his face but honestly it could be either. I don’t know.
What is it with Turkey and opening night games? They did the same in their clash against Italy two years ago, sending anyone with a functioning brain descending into madness. It’s beauty is in how little it makes sense. It’s just there being crazy. This is what we are watching. This is what opening night Turkey does. They make you need to pound a few beers afterwards rather than just want to. You need it to recover your sanity.
At half-time of this madness, Russia led 36-33.
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So we’re back. Fans are using the lights on their phones to try and distract Mosgov. They make no difference and then he swats Guler. Of course Russia turned it over and Guler got in for an easy score. Then another turnover and Guler, seeing he’s under pressure tries to pass only to softly give it to a red jersey. No worries, Russia are about to turn it right back over, ending in Korkmaz going to the line. No rest. None. This game is here to eat us alive.
The turnovers are all we have. Nobody wants to keep the ball. Baris Hersek can’t take it either. He’s standing at the end of the bench almost down the tunnel as Shved draws a foul from what looked like a shot destined to only find air. There’s no escape Baris. You are stuck here with us until the end.
— Alexander Chernykh (@chernykh) September 1, 2017
Timeout. Turkey won the turnover battle, by which I mean they only managed 6 in the first 5.44 of the quarter compared to Russia’s 13. It’s 46-46. The score makes sense, I guess.
Russia rolled off a 6-0 run. Melih Mahmutoglu forces the first turnover in almost 4 minutes of play and Cedi hits a wildly constested three where he almost certainly couldn’t see the bucket. End of Q3 and I’m not sure if I want overtime or need it but lead 52-51…wait they called that? Cedi on Shved from behind the arc? I have no idea what the fans are chanting but I imagine they are questioning the parentage of the refs. 10 minutes to play and Russia lead 55-51.
Deep breath. Here we go.
We are soon back in the dance of one-possession. Russia can’t keep a cushion for long. They must live on the edge. Semih with the arse into the other guy’s junk and turnaround J. Guler. The lead. The tables are rocking. Shved. The lead goes back.
Semih Erden has a house going wild. Russia keep getting to the line though. Sarica calls in the troops. Hedo is watching from the other side at mid-court. He’s getting into this. Where is Korkmaz though? We haven’t seen him in ages. He was doing lots of damage. Sipahi too is sitting and he really could be doing all sorts of nonsense up in here. Erkan Veyseloglu is doing a fine impersonation in their absence. More fouls. Bonus territory now.
Korkmaz re-enters. Sarica is yapping into Guler’s ear. Hersek is still almost down the exit ramp. Mosgov goes 1 of 2. Guler to Korkmaz for the alley-oop. It’s level again.
Furkan Korkmaz INCOMING ????pic.twitter.com/YddeSAPYU3
— Eurohoops.net (@Eurohoopsnet) September 1, 2017
Now Cedi wants to came things down? Iso Cedi, that’s more like it, and the lead. It’s all ephemeral. The only permanency shall be the end and what is left of us. Russia are up by 1 when Sarica calls timeout with 1.50 to play.
A minute goes by without a score although Cedi looked certain for a lay-up after Melih intercepts an errant pass. Rims out. Timeout again. 45.6 seconds to play.
Shved as the clock is nearly dead for three. A 4 point lead and the clock is ticking. A turnover. Somehow, some way, Russia have won this without it coming down to the last shot. I need a drink.
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