29 June, 2021
04 July
15 Martin Peterka (CZE), 6 Cedi Osman (TUR)
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Turkey get revenge on Czech, move closer to Olympic dream

VICTORIA (Canada) – Cedi Osman called it a revenge game. Not everyone saw it that way. But it was hard to ignore the matchup’s significance.

Turkey-Czech Republic, European counterparts, a rematch from the 2019 FIBA World Cup, a berth in the Olympics at stake.

Turkey and Osman got their revenge and are two wins away from the biggest basketball tournament in the world.

“Today was a special game for us,” Turkey’s Furkan Korkmaz said after the win.

Turkey defeated the Czech Republic 87-70 on Wednesday to reach the Semi-Finals of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Victoria. The win not only got Turkey one step closer to their first Olympics since 1952, but avenged a loss from two years ago that still stung.

In that one, the Czech Republic shot a blistering 59 percent from the field and handled Turkey 91-76 during Pool Play at the World Cup in China. There was plenty of familiarity in the rematch as 13 players from that game took the court again Wednesday, but the outcome was refreshing for the victors. It was Turkey’s first win against Czech since 2013.

Turkey didn’t make it past Pool Play at the World Cup, and the loss to the Czech Republic played a big part in that. Wednesday’s win flipped the script and put Czech on the ropes - they must win Thursday against Uruguay to advance to the OQT Semi-Finals.

“I feel like it’s time for revenge,” Osman said after Turkey’s Group Phase win over Uruguay. “We know them really well, they know us, so it’s going to be a definitely fun game to play tomorrow. Can’t wait.”

Osman, Korkmaz, Ersan Ilyasova and Omer Yurtseven give Turkey NBA talent only Canada, among the six teams in Victoria, can match. The Czech Republic aren’t as loaded, but still boast Tomas Satoransky and Jan Vesely - two of the country’s four players who have ever played in the NBA. Vesely wasn’t on the 2019 World Cup team that beat Turkey with ease, giving Czech some extra ammo this time around.

But Turkey, who’s motivated to prove they can “beat everybody in this (tournament),” as Korkmaz put it, overpowered the Czechs with streaky offense and physical defense.

“They’ve got some young guys who are really hungry, they want to show up,” Czech’s Ondrej Balvin said after the game. “They stepped up today.”

The biggest difference for Turkey from 2019 to 2021? Experience, according to center Sertac Sanli. Some of Turkey’s young, rising stars aren’t yet 25.

That means the time for Turkey is now, Korkmaz said, calling this era the “golden generation” of basketball in his country.

A revenge win is a good step.

“It was (circled on our schedule),” Korkmaz said. “We don’t forget any loss, any win.”