In what seemed a slow-paced game for the first three quarters, an action-packed fourth quarter went in favor of the FIBA eighth-ranked Turkey crew, behind the hot shooting from Ali Muhammad, to advance in the semis and eliminate a gritty Senegal, 68-62, at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
After a dismal first outing, Ali Muhammed led the Turks with 23 points to go along with six rebounds and four assists. Big man Semih Erden added a double-double with 14 points and 11 boards.
A low-scoring affair yielded a slow first quarter that only made the two teams enter double-digit scoring in the final minute of action. After Turkey managed to tie the ugly quarter at seven courtesy of Semih Erden, four straight fast break points helped Senegal break the deadlock. Prior the buzzer, Melih Mahmutoglu knocked down a three to make it an 11-10 game, still in favor of Senegal.
Scoring picked up a bit in the next quarter as Mahmutoglu and Sinan Guler both hit from downtown to cap Turkey’s initial surge and give them a 20-14 advantage. Afterwards, Maurice Ndour countered with his own make from downtown to fuel a 7-2 run for Senegal. However, the last wave of points went the way of the Turkish crew, who went to their long frontcourt of Semih Erden and Omer Asik. In a quick turnaround, Turkey led by ten at halftime, 33-23, sealed by a triple by Ali Muhammed.
Maleye Ndoye, Thierno Niang, and Antoine Mendy were all aggressively attacking the paint to keep Senegal within striking distance. By the 4:15 mark of the third, Senegal successfully shrugged off their poor shooting and managed to slice the lead down to 41-38. In addition, the crew fortified their run after a thunderous put-back jam by Ndour and three missed free throws by Erden late on. At the end of three quarters, the closely-contested affair produced a 46-43 lead for Turkey.
Senegal converted a perfect 4/4 clip from the foul stripe at the start of the final quarter to keep it a one-possession game. However, the squad lost former PBA import Hamady N’Diaye to foul issues that made it easier for Turkey’s bigs to make an impact. Asik made a three-point play halfway through the fourth to extend their lead to a comfortable 53-47. Mendy responded with a bail-out three on the other end, but Thomas committed an unsportsmanlike foul defending Turkey’s fast break attempt.
This resulted in two free throws by Muhammed, which he followed up with an and-one play off another transition try to open a 58-50 separation with 3:11 left. After a turnover by Senegal, Muhammad knocked down what seemed to be a nail-in-the-coffin triple, but Hannah and Mendy scored five quick points to trim the lead to four.
Afterwards, Muhammed answered Ndoye’s three with his own to reinstall a 66-60 gap. Senegal’s fightback came up short, with time not on their side.
Turkey committed less turnovers, 11-17, despite getting out-rebounded, 40-51. Despite missing 13 attempts from the charity stripe, Turkey were able to convert nine more shots from the free throw line, 17-8.
Senegal came up short for the second straight game, with their captain Maleye Ndoye leading the pack with 15 markers.
Turkey will next face the winner of the ongoing France-New Zealand game on Saturday, July 9.
Turkey (68) – Muhammed 23, Erden 14, Guler 8, Mahmotoglu 8, Asik 7, Korkmaz 5, Batuk 3, Savas 0, Geyik 0, Sipahi 0.
Senegal (62) – Ndoye M. 15, Ndour 14, Mendy 11, Niang 8, Hannah 6, Mbodj 2, Gueye 2, Ndiaye H. 2, Ndiaye E. 2, Adams 0, Thomas 0, Ndoye A. 0.
Quarterscores: 10-11, 33-23, 46-43, 68-62.