Eurobasket 2011 is in full force and Turkey knocked off Spain today in round two of preliminary play, 65-57. A great game it was, and Spain looked to be in the drivers seat with an eight point lead and eight minutes to play. Turkey proceeded to go on a 16-0 run and steal the game.
How'd Turkey do it? They executed at a superior level on both ends. On defense especially, they raddled Spain, clearly reading the attempts to feed Marc Gasol in the paint and instead forcing a bad outside shot or drive to be made. Offensively, they were able to grind it out late. The game was slow paced in crunch time, and Turkey was able to really attack on the interior.
Ömer Aşık was a catalyst of the interior play for Turkey. Aşık's presence was monumental. He changed the way Spain played offensively, drew fouls on Spain's bigs and simply played a man's game. I thought Serge Ibaka was a big boy, then I saw Aşık put him in his place with a put-back dunk (I still love Serge though)! Aşık doesn't look like much of an intimidating player, but he really plays with strong persistence and he's unafraid to use his body. In case you Chicago Bull fans weren't excited about this Turkish force, get excited! Barring injury, this guy is an amazing piece to a championship puzzle.
So how did Spain lose their lead? They didn't have offensive sets that couldn't be read by Turkey (i.e. trying to throw to Gasol in the post), couldn't stop the onslaught of points from Turkey and overall executed poorly. Every possession down the stretch, it seemed like Spain would try to get Gasol the ball down low and then when that didn't work someone chucked up a forced shot. Whether it was Navarro, Rubio, or whoever, the shots Spain was getting were not centered around ball movement. This was their mindset: dribble, dribble, dribble, and let's see if we get lucky this time. Unless you've got a truly special player and/or luck, this strategy usually fails. This time was no different!
On defense, Spain just couldn't stop the inside invasion, which broke their whole defense. They would even make Turkey use a majority of the clock, then they'd either get a foul inside, or an outside look.
The way Spain finishes games is confusing. It's usually never crisp on either end and that's why they get the results that they do. When they start running a few more set plays and intensifying their D, they will finish games brilliantly. With the guys they've got, there's really no excuse for things like this!
Congrats again to Turkey, nice win! Spain, you know what you need to do, so get it done!