TURKEY SHOW GB THE EXIT DOOR

Great Britain will depart EuroBasket Women at the end of the second round after they lost 64-57 to Turkey on Saturday in Bydgoszcz. And with Russia defeating the Czech Republic in Saturday’s second Group E game, Tom Maher’s side saw their slim hopes of reaching the quarter-finals completely extinguished.

However, after scaling the heights in the previous dramatic outing against Lithuania, there was a sense of deflation. For the first time, GB did not play to their true capabilities. Coming in with real ambition, instead they could not find their prime form when nothing less was ultimately required.

“It’s very disappointing again, but there are positives” said Jo Leedham, who had 11 points. “We’ll look back and think we could have changed things or done things differently.

“We were on a high after we’d got it back to two points, but we missed a crucial box-out and I missed a shot which proved to be a big turning point. It was at a crucial phase, and that was a real blow and knocked the wind out of us.”

With so much at stake, it was barely a surprise that the lead went back and forth in the opening period. Britain led 5-0 but committed 5 turnovers in the first six minutes as Nevriye Yilmaz came off the bench to quickly respond to her demotion from the starting line-up to spark an 8-0 run from the Turks.

Leedham came off her bench with notch consecutive scores as GB led 9-8. Seda Erdogan, then Nat Stafford – who had a team-high 18 points -hit threes and then Yilmaz converted a put back as Turkey went in front again with 2:19 left in the quarter.

It was a lead that would run and run. Up 17-15 headed into the second period, Turkey’s shooters made GB pay from the perimeter while matching their rivals rebound for rebound.

Page landed back to back scores to level at 19-19 and, after Turkey edged away, Azania Stewart and Nat Stafford tied up the game at 27-27 with 3:34 to go until the break. The Turks, who were 72-51 winners when these sides met in Antalya in a friendly last month, made a concerted surge.

Birsel Vardarli and Naile Ivegin hit threes in quick succession to open up a 33-27 advantage at half-time. And when Yilmaz twice found space inside early in the third, GB were staring at a double-digit deficit, their defence lacking the same precision and intensity that had proven so successful against Lithuania two days before.

There was too much sloppiness and needless errors. Turkey patiently passed the ball, awaiting an opening.

“We knew it would be a hard fight,” said Page. “We had a couple of lapses and you can’t have that against a quality team.”

GB's forwards, including Kim Butler, found it tough (FIBA Europe)

Stafford, finally, lit some kind of spark. The Australian-born guard hit a three to begin a burst of seven unanswered points that cut the gap to 41-36, renewing her side’s hope.

With ten minutes left, Maher’s side were 45-40 down and still looking for a sustained surge. Stafford brought GB ever nearer with the initial score of the fourth but Iveglin kept Turkey on top with two foul shots before laying in an easy lay-up on the break.

Rash decisions hindered both teams. Passes were scattered into oblivion. GB missed four consecutive shots.

Yilmaz capped an 8-0 flurry that forced Maher into a time-out with his team down 53-42 with 5:10 left and with ever decreasing room for manoeuvre.

Page and Stafford began a mini-run to bring Britain within seven and then they caught a break when Yilmaz, off an unsportsmanlike foul by Page, missed two free-throws. GB caught another break.

Palazoglu caught Stafford as she shot from long range. She made 2/3 and then when Stewart finished off a sweeping move in the key, Turkey were forced into a time-out with 2:30 to go with their lead precarious at 53-50.

With two minutes left, the gap was at 2 with Leedham downing a 3-point play from the line. Tensions grew. Baskets were traded.

But as GB were forced to desperately foul, the Turks – headed by 18 from Yilmaz – hung on to keep their own ambitions alive for a little longer, claiming 7 of the game’s last 9 points.

“I don’t think we deserved to win this game. They did enough to win,” said Maher, whose team will conclude their tournament on Monday against the Russians (2.30pm). “We just made enough mistakes and they made enough good plays to get the result.”

Russia placed one foot in the last eight with a 69-55 win over the Czech Republic. However, after leading 51-31 headed into the fourth quarter, the Russians gave up 14 straight points before holding on.

A win for Lithuania over Belarus means three teams will chase two spots on Monday’s final round of games.

FIXTURES

Saturday EuroBasket Women, Second Round (Bydgoszcz). Great Britain 57 Turkey 64, Russia 69 Czech Republic 55, Lithuania 68 Belarus 50

Standings – Group E

Team P W L F-A Pts
1. Czech Republic 4 3 1 238-227 7
2. Lithuania 3 3 0 204-185 6
3. Belarus 3 2 1 179-158 5
4. Russia 4 2 2 264-258 6
5. Turkey 4 1 3 238-257 3
6. Great Britain 4 0 4 205-243 4
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