Turkey abolished a 16-point lead but managed to edge out Italy 89-87 in the final seconds on Saturday, in the opening game for both teams in EuroBasket 2015 Group B, in Berlin.
Turning Point: Down by two, 88-86, with nine seconds left on the clock, Italian forward Danilo Gallinari who, was 14-of-14 from the stripe until that moment, missed his second free-throw and Italy immediately sent Semih Erden to the foul line. The Turkish big man split his free-throws to give Turkey an 89-87 cushion with six seconds remaining, Marco Belinelli was slowed down by the superb Turkish press and his desperation shot from mid-court did not drop in.
Stats Don't Lie: Turkey's field goal percentage was lower than Italy's but they made up for it by taking good care of the ball and committing only eight turnovers, while they also came up with eight steals and forced Italy to turn the ball over 14 times.
Game Hero: Ersan Ilyasova was on fire early on as he poured in nine points on 4-of-4 from the floor but he got into foul trouble early on and Semih Erden took over, culminating one pick'n'roll play after the next and collecting 22 points and eight rebounds. Italy's loss was harsh on Gallinari, who finished with a day one high of 33 points on 9-of-10 shooting from the floor.
Bottom Line: Turkey made excellent use of the full-court press they had been polishing in friendlies all summer and enormous confidence offensively, which raises the question whether taking on the wounded Spain within less than 24 hours is a perfect opportunity for them. Italy did not protect their paint at all in the first half and had trouble defending the pick'n'roll all night. They will now look to bounce back against Iceland on Sunday.