Cakir hopeful of getting taste of Olympics with Turkey
ISTANBUL (2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments) - Turkey are still in the hunt for a spot in the Rio de Janeiro Games because when push came to shove last summer in Budapest, they were better than Russia in the battle for fifth place at the EuroBasket Women.
Turkey scraped a 68-66 victory. Different players stepped up at different times to make big, important plays in that game. One of them was Olcay Cakir.
Cakir (TUR) helped Turkey beat Russia to reach the WOQT
A player that grew up with Turkey's youth teams, playing for the U16s, U17s, U18s, U20s, Cakir showed she belong with the senior team in the win over Russia.
With 44.9 seconds remaining in overtime and the shot clock about to expire, Cakir found herself open behind the arc and caught a pass from teammate Isil Alben. She drilled the shot to knot the contest at 66-66.
Alben then scored a go-ahead basket on a drive on Turkey's next possession with just 4.2 seconds remaining and her team prevailed to claim a place in the FIBA Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament (WOQT).
Turkey hosted the WOQT in 2012 and claimed one of the five spots for the London Games, and now they will compete in the WOQT in Nantes from 13-19 June.
It's an event that Cakir has been thinking about since walking off the court in Hungary after the win over Russia. She wants nothing more than to clinch a spot in the Rio. The Fenerbahce guard then wants to be a part of a famous run in Brazil.
The Olympics are the highest level for every sport, and it's every athlete's dream to participate. It's a big responsibility and very exciting to be a part of a team that will go to the Olympics, and to make a contribution to that team. I'm really happy about this. First, we're going to get through the qualifiers. Then we're going to do everything possible to win a medal. - Cakir
The losing side would still have a chance to claim the last qualifying spot but would need to win two games.
When Turkey played in London four years ago, they had a solid Olympic campaign, advancing from the Group Phase before falling in a mild upset to Russia, 66-63.
If things go according to plan for Cakir this year, Turkey will not only make it to Rio but go further than in 2012.