ISTANBUL - Daily News with wires
Guard Kerem Tunçeri added two points and two assists for Turkey. AA photo
Turkey made a successful start to the EuroBasket 2009 campaign, beating Lithuania 84-76 on Monday night.
Hidayet “Hedo” Türkoğlu of the NBA team Orlando Magic led the scoring with 19 points, while Barcelona forward Ersan İlyasova produced 17 points for Turkey. Efes Pilsen guard Ender Arslan became the x-factor for Turkish team, adding 16 points.
Turkey managed to put on a solid battle from the start to the end, getting more rebounds (27 against 24) and less turnovers (15 against 13).
Veteran center Marijonas Petravicius was the high-scorer of the game with 21 points for Lithuania.
After the first day at the tournament in Poland, Turkey sits on the second spot of Group D. Host country Poland tops the group after a 90-78 victory over Bulgaria.
Speaking after the game, Turkey coach Bogdan Tanjevic praised his team’s battle in the game.
“I am happy with my team’s performance throughout the game. We maintained our defense and offense in a good level,” he said, adding that it was the first time that he saw his side produced a high percentage in free throws. Turkey converted 23 of 26 attempts from foul line, a department in which it usually is the second best.
“It is important to start those tournaments with a win and we are very happy. We should continue our performance in other games.”
Turkey will take on Bulgaria in its second group game on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Serbia used a stingy defense to upset world champion Spain 66-57 also on Monday.
Looking like one of the formidable Yugoslav teams of old, the young Serbian squad without any NBA stars thoroughly outplayed a lackluster Spain, clamping down on a Spanish attack led by Los Angeles Lakers center Pau Gasol.
"I think tonight my team absolutely deserved this victory," the Associated Press quoted coach Duzan Ivkovic as saying. "We won with extremely great defense."
The Serbs used a 14-4 run in the last five minutes of the first half to open a 38-23 lead at the break.
After a cold first half, Spain still couldn't find its shooting touch after the break, making just 2 of 19 from behind the arc and 54 percent from the line for the night. Serbia's lead was never less than eight points in the second half.
"They played a very good game, especially on the defensive end," Spain coach Sergio Scariolo said. "Our shooting percentages were tonight really low. So offensively we struggled, part due to the good defense of our opponent, and part we missed very, very open shots and free throws."
Gasol, who is coming off minor surgery on his left index finger after injuring it last month, struggled all night to find his range. The Lakers star shot 4 of 10 from the field, and hit just 1 of 8 free throws to finish with 9 points.
Serbia tops Group C along with Slovenia, which beat Britain 72-59 earlier Monday.
Defending champion Russia also won its opener, jumping out to an early lead against Latvia and then holding off a late challenge to win 81-68 behind 24 points and 9 rebounds from American-born Kelly McCarty and 22 points from point guard Sergey Bykov.
Latvia cut Russia's lead to 65-63 with 4:08 to play on a pair of free throws from Kaspars Kambala before the Russians closed with a 16-5 run.
France joined Russia atop Group B with its 70-65 win over Germany. San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker scored 11 of his game-high 19 points in the last 2:38 to carry the French down the stretch.
Germany sorely missed its NBA star, Dirk Nowitzki. The Dallas Mavericks forward led all scorers at the 2007 championships with 24 points per game, but Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has refused to allow him to play in the tournament.
Greece, the 2005 European champion, jumped to an 18-5 lead in the first five minutes to open the tournament with an easy win over Macedonia in Group A. Point guard Vassilis Spanoulis led Greece with 17 points, and center Yannis Bourousis chipped in with 11 points and 8 rebounds.
"We didn't really know them and we'd heard that they could cause us trouble," Bourousis said. "But in the game, we started strong and stayed that way throughout."
Croatia downed Israel 86-79 in Group A.