Memnun relieved as Turkey pass a major test of character
ANKARA (FIBA EuroBasket Women 2017 Qualifiers) – It was one of the standout games of the entire FIBA EuroBasket Women 2017 Qualifiers and there's little doubt Turkey's dramatic overtime success over Bosnia and Herzegovina will live long in the memory.
Perhaps their 72-68 victory wasn't quite so enjoyable if you were holding the coaching reins of the home favourites like Ekrem Memnun, because the play-caller had to ride an astonishing roller-coaster of emotion to get the job done and send his team safely to Final Round next summer.
Turkey headed into the game as overwhelming favourites and even more so with Bosnia and Herzegovina without the services of their leading light in WNBA draftee Marica Gajic. Yet against the odds, the visitors generally kept pace with their illustrious opponents.
That included becoming a serious threat to the party in the Turkish capital when the visitors' captain Dragana Svitlica drained a lean-back triple from the corner to force overtime – the gasp from the partisan locals was audible.
Turkey's pathway to the Czech Republic might have got complicated had they not held their nerve during the extra five minutes to take a hard-fought win – and one which had Memnun breathing a significant sigh of relief.
"We didn't play well at all but we won with the support of the great crowd in Ankara," he revealed.
"It wasn't our game and the way we wanted to play, but that happens in any season and it showed that no match is easy. We've got to play good in every game and in every position.
"The Bosnia and Herzegovina team played willingly in every way and showed that they play simple basketball and have some quality players.
"The end part of the match was important for our character, although we need to improve our own quality.
"There were a few things I was satisfied with and now I hope the audience will be with us again on Wednesday [against Romania]," concluded Memnun.
Turkey will head to Final Round next year looking to get back to competing for the podium after winning silver in 2011 and a bronze in 2013 – but missing out on a medal in Hungary and Romania at the 2015 edition.