Turkey must regroup and try for Tokyo 2020, says Sanders
RIO DE JANEIRO (Rio 2016 Olympic Games) - If there was a game at the Rio 2016 Women's Olympic Basketball Tournament that had fans go crazy, the Quarter-Final between Spain and Turkey was certainly it.
While the consequences were excellent for Spain, they were devastating for Turkey.
"I think it's just time for us to work on our future and encourage our youngsters to work hard and try to get back here [Olympics] for 2020." - Lara Sanders
In a game that registered five lead changes, Anna Cruz's buzzer-beater not only sent eventual silver medallists Spain into the Semis but it also proved cruel for Turkey who led most of the contest.
Cruz buried an incredible winner to send Turkey crashing out in the Quarter-Finals
Had Turkey's rotation and focus been effective, the outcome could have been totally different.
For the Turks, who were outscored 12-2 in the last 3:45 minutes, the loss to Spain quite probably means the end of a generation.
Our #Rio2016 journey ends but we proud of you 🇹🇷 Thank you girls...#TUR 62-64 #ESP #Olympics pic.twitter.com/hvIXkSaT0i— Turkish Basketball (@TurkishBBall) August 16, 2016
With the prospect of a number of players retiring from the Turkish national team, the general feeling is that it's all about focusing on the future of the team.
And, Lara Sanders, who did everything in her power to give Turkey a chance in Rio, voiced her feelings to FIBA.com.
"It's a sad loss but I am sad for the generation of Turkish players who are retiring now. We wanted to do this for Birsel [Vardarli], for Saziye [Ivegin] and it's heartbreaking to see their faces after the game," said Sanders who finished with game-highs 22 points and 10 rebounds. "I think it's just time for us to work on our future and encourage our youngsters to work hard and try to get back here [Olympics] for 2020."
Asked how they allowed Cruz to hit the game-winner, Sanders said Turkey had a bad two-minute spell at the end during which they couldn't score nor get stops.
"We lucked out when I got the lay-up at the end because they just weren't paying attention and they inbounded real quick and that's the best time to score in transition when the balances are even," she explained.
"We also expected to be in a medal game. We know ourselves, our identity. And outside the United States, it's pretty even. Australia lost. We reached all of our goals except for one."