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Weekend Euro Ball: Turkey and Greece

August 22, 2011

Over the weekend, Turkey, Greece, Germany and, oh yeah, Belgium duked it out in the Beko Supercup tournament…which, like Russian and Ukrainian games, are technically irrelevant to Jazz fans because none of the players involved are under contract with the Jazz.

The first match of Day 1, Turkey vs. Hellas, wasn’t overly exciting from the Jazz perspective. Enes Kanter barely played, and had an empty stat line in 3:43. The Koof, meanwhile, had 9 and 3 in 10:32. He did, however, bring the house down make me yell with this throwdown slamma:

The second day of action pitted Turkey against Belgium and Greece against Germany. Germany might not be a EuroBasket favorite, but with Dirk and Kaman they’re probably a team that other teams aren’t going to take lightly.

The Koof dominated. He led all scorers with 17 points (on 7 shots), and he did that playing less than 18 minutes. Kanter also fared better, getting 14 minutes of floor time and collecting 7 points and 8 rebounds. He started the second half and grabbed 6 boards in the quarter. While he scored on half of his offensive putbacks and missed layups on the other half, it was, all in all, an encouraging effort.

Consider this game film rather than highlights. I’m guessing not everyone is willing to crawl out of bed at odd hours to catch these games, so watching only highlight videos of Kanter would be misleading as to where he is in his development. So this–with good moments and bad–is meant to hopefully prevent false expectations.

I’ve been whiling away the time reading random forums (so take the following with a lake of salt/for what it’s worth), but some fans seem to think the Turkish coach’s game plan is waiting for injured vets to come back rather than incorporating the young guys–which could explain why Kanter hasn’t seemed overly familiar with the system. That, and the vets on the team–especially the ones that play in the NBA–are too busy taking as many shots as they can to pass the ball/pass to Enes. There’s also conjecture that Utah must be panicking.

Day 3 saw Greece playing Belgium and Germany playing Turkey. The Koof was again impressive, tallying 12 points (tied for team-high) and 11 boards in 17:29. I’ve thought for some time that once the Koof has confidence, he could get somewhere. He’s getting more PT with the Greek national team, and he’s making the most of it. (Last year, he skipped out on the national team because the Jazz wanted him to play in the summer league. We all know what happened: The Jazz traded him to Minnesota less than one week after the Orlando Summer League ended.) Greece currently sits at the top of the standings in the preseason preparation games with a record of 8-1.

Turkey, meanwhile, has been getting smoked in friendly games so far. Not just beaten, but blown out. Against Greece on Day 1, they lost 62-38. Prior to Day 2, it had the third worst point differential (-13) among all European teams taking part in friendly games. It was also tied for second worst win percentage at 25% and ranked dead last in PPG (59).

In Germany’s outing against Turkey, the leading scorer was our very own Enes, who was the only Turkish player to score in double figures. Did I mention that he only played 13 minutes, and that eight of his teammates were on the floor longer? The team’s other NBA players, Hedo Turkoglu and Ersan Ilyasova, played a total of 49 minutes and combined for a scorching/puketastic 5 of 22 on FGs.

It was a close game through three quarters, but Germany put the game away by kicking off the fourth quarter with a 12-0 run. Turkey also lost despite having taking ten more free throws (but their free throw shooting was bad as Turkoglu and Ilyasova’s general shooting, and they only made 13 of 26 FTs. Excepting Kanter’s 6-8 at the charity stripe, Turkey went 7 of 18 on FTs.)

Speaking of fouls and free throws, perhaps the most egregious foul shots awarded to Turkey was when Ilyasova kneed a Germany player in the nuts (video) and was awarded free throws for it. Meanwhile, the German player was down on the ground for ages and had to be helped off the floor, hobbling and doubled over. Ouch.

Anyway, it seemed like Kanter’s teammates were making more of an effort to get him involved or at least letting him touch the ball more. Kanter hit one of two medium-long range jumpers, and also drew five fouls while getting called for zero.

From the DN: “I just want to play,” Kanter said quietly. I just want to play basketball.”

P.S. Germany…your uniforms are #NotOK.

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