Russia’s women qualify for basketball semis after a nail-bitter against Turkey
Russia managed to keep Turkey at bay in the dying moments of the women’s basketball quarterfinal at the 2012 London Olympics. At the final whistle, Russia grabbed a pulsating victory with final scoreboard showing 66-63. The victory granted Russia a spot in the semifinal, which will be played on Tuesday.
Spectators reminisced about the last year’s EuroBasket final, which also went Russia’s way as the game near a potential overtime. Turkey’s women’s basketball team are in their first Olympics, so naturally they were given the dark horse status.
However, Turkey recorded 4-1 in the preliminary rounds to prove they were not one of the underdogs in the tournament. The powerhouse United States women’s basketball team was the only team who defeated Turkey until they met Turkey.
“I think today was a really equal game,” said Russia’s coach Boris Sokolovskiy. “I think we were luckier. I've seen Turkey progress a lot.”
Russia, who won three of their five games in the preliminary stage, were well prepared for a lockdown towards the end of the game. Both teams entered the fourth quarter of the game with the score being tied at 51-51.
With the game in its final minute Russia was behind by 60-62. Russia’s American-born point guard Becky Hammon decided to intervene and leveled the score at 62-62 just 14 seconds from the final whistle.
Kuanitra Holingsvorth had the opportunity to bring a two-point lead for Russia, but she only scored on one of her two free throws. Turkey then fouled on Russia’s rebound which resulted in an another opportunity to score from two free throws. This Russia scored on both occasions to bring the score to 66-63.
Turkey had 10.5 seconds to score three points. Birsel Vardali took the responsibility of draining one beyond the arc, but her shot bounced off the rim as the match came to an end.
“If we would have won, we would have had a chance of a medal. That is how important this game was,” said Turkey’s coach Ceyhun Yildizoglu in an interview after the game.
“Our goal is to make the Turkish people proud of us. I believe in the future we will do really great things in the Olympics.”
Nevriye Yilmaz of Turkey was the top scorer in the game with 22 points to her name. Becky Hammon became Russia’s top scorer with 19 points.
Russia will now play against either France or the Czech Republic in the semifinal on Thursday.