Turkey coach Ergin Ataman admitted that the offensive struggle of naturalized playmaker Bobby Dixon (Turkish name Muhammed Ali) contributed a lot to his team’s 69-77 defeat to tournament-favorite Canada at the start of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament on Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Dixon, a 5-foot-9 playmaker who has toiled for years in the European league, finished the game with just one point, while going 0-of-8 from the floor.
The usually efficient Turkish import struggled mightily on the defense of canadian star point guard Cory Joseph.
“I know Bobby Dixon for the last 4 or 5 games in the Euro league. I think this is his worst game in his career, though I don’t think he will repeat one more time this game,” Ataman told sports scribes in the post-game press conference.
Dixon, a product of Troy University, was far from his usually explosive self, throwing brick after brick on offense.
He had 3 turnovers as well while being totally outclassed by Joseph, who went on to pepper Turkey with 21 points.
Ataman though expects the 33-year-old Dixon to bounce back strong against Senegal, which Turkey faces on Thursday.
Meanwhile, things don’t look rosy for young Turkish forward Cedi Osman, who hurt his right leg early in the 4th quarter.
“The 6-foot-8 Osman, considered the future star of the Turkish national squad, hurt his right leg while chasing Canadian Philip Scrubb on defense.
Melih Mahmutoglu checked on for the 21-year-old Osman, who along with team skipper Sinan Guler, served as the only bright spots for Turkey.
“I think it’s not good and of course now, in the first 24 hours, it will be difficult to understand what happened,” explained Ataman. “I think now the doctor will bring him to the hospital for MRI (magentic resonance imaging).” — By Richard Dy