Turkey has come from behind to defeat the Australian Crocs 81-79 at the 2018 FIBA Under-17 World Cup for men in Argentina to collect their first win of the tournament.
Australia led by as many as 14 points in the third period before Turkey strangled the Crocs in the final quarter to come away with a narrow 2 point win. Turnovers hurt the Crocs down the stretch, committing 24 for the game as their opponents took full advantage scoring 23 points from those chances.
Luke Jackson and Luke Travers both logged double-doubles for Australia who led for all but 2:24 minutes of the game. Jackson delivered 16 points and 11 rebounds, while Travers added 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Kobe Williamson, Travers and Jackson got Australia off to a good start, earning an 8-4 lead early. Australia were making their intentions known, focused on ball movement and on scoring in the paint. The Crocs were doing a great job of keeping limiting Turkey's size advantage, and when Josh Bannan came off the bench to throw one down before backing up with the three-pointer not long after, the Aussies had a 10 point lead at the end of the quarter.
Turkey managed to stymie the Australian's scoring though employing a zone defense, managing to chip away at the margin. A timely Jay Rantall triple kept his country in front but the regular scoring dried up. The Turks were misfiring themselves, unable to connect on wide open three-point attempts. Williamson stepped up for a late score to keep the Crocs ahead 42-36 at half time.
Both teams traded buckets, with Travers dunking one home on an offensive rebound. Hunter Clarke drained a triple off a nice feed by Tamuri Wigness that pushed the lead out to 13 mid-way through the term. It was then 14 points in favour of the Aussies when Jackson kicked it out to Wani Swaka Lo Buluk for a big three of his own. Turnovers were starting to take their toll on the Crocs, as Turkey threatened to close it up. A Wigness lay-up was followed by a Clarke score at the buzzer to ensure the Australian's held a 11 point advantage at the last change.
The final term belonged to Turkey, with their full court press and intensity continuing to force the Australians to turn over the ball. When Ömer Yasir Kücük scored on a lay-up with 3:21 to play, Turkey had tied the game up at 73-all. He followed up with another less than a minute later to steal the lead by 2, with the Aussies firmly on the back foot. Trailing by 3, Wigness scored on a tough lay-up and was fouled, but missed the resulting free throw and the chance to tie up the game.
Jackson found a way back to the free throw line to make both and get Australia back in front with just over 1 minute left. Kücük responded with another score, before Williamson drive hard and was fouled, making both to retake the lead with 20 seconds left. Once again it was Kücük who responded, scoring with 5 seconds left to edge his side back in front. Wigness then lost the handle on a fast break attempt, forced to foul and stop the clock. Turkey made just 1-2 from the line, giving Australia once last final shot at victory. Yet the pass was unable to be handled by Clarke, and Turkey holding on for a 2 point upset win.
Turkey shot just 4-19 from three-point territory but generating 11 more field goal attempts than the Aussies. But it was their defensive intensity that forced Australia into turnovers that ultimately earned them the win.
Atakan Erdek led all scorers with 18 points for Turkey, supported by 14 points and 4 assists from Mustafa Kurtuldum and Kücük's 13 points and 6 rebounds who was clutch down the stretch.
Lo Buluk added 13 points, Wigness 10 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals, and Williamson 10 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists for the Australians.
The Crocs will have to put the loss behind them for their next game against the undefeated Puerto Rico at 2:15am AEST on Wednesday morning. Puerto Rico are looking ominous after dispatching Turkey (76-68) and the Dominican Republic (69-84). Their athleticism may pose problems for the smaller Australians. The game will once again be streamed live to The Pick and Roll’s Facebook page.
The Pick and Roll will be streaming every Australian game LIVE thanks to FIBA with commentary provided by ‘the voice of the QBL’ Jon Guarna who will be joined by Damian Arsenis via Facebook.
1 July: Australia defeated Dominican Republic 73-71 2 July: Australia lost to Turkey 79-81 4 July: Australia vs Puerto Rico @ 2:15am 5 July: Round of 16 7 July: Quarter-Finals 8 July: Semi-Finals 9 July: Medal Games