Croatian Basketball Team Gathers in Zagreb for EuroBasket Preparations

By 1 August 2017

The Croatian basketball team gathered in Zagreb on Monday to begin one-month of preparations for the European Championship (EuroBasket). Training began today in Sv. Martin na Muri. 

A press conference was held on Monday at Zagreb's Hotel Panorama with representatives of the team, reports on July 31, 2017.

Bojan Bogdanović, one of Croatia’s best basketball players, was asked about the state of the team and if he believed that the dismissal of individual players would hurt them in the upcoming tournament. 

“I do not think that any of the players that have chosen not to join us will hurt us. I do not regret my decision at all, nor was it wrong of those players to sit out. I think that with our few veterans, with Žorić, Tomas and Popović, we have the breadth that we may have missed last year in those crucial moments and I hope that they will bring what is expected of them,” said Bogdanovic.

After the conference, the team visited the Mirogoj cemetery where they laid wreaths on the graves of basketball greats. They then continued to Sv. Martin na Muri where they will train until August 7th before leaving for the tournament in France.

“I have been training so I can stay in shape, to arrive for preparations in good condition. We have a month together to prepare and to play a couple of friendly tournaments and matches. I sincerely hope that we will be healthy when we welcome the first match at the European Championship,” Bogdanović added.

The captain of the national team, Roko Ukić, has been on the national team for 12 years and still looks forward to getting the national team together. 

"It's always nice to see the representative team after a long time and to begin the new adventure ahead together. We are a bit behind compared to the others and we do not even know how these first few tournaments will look, but we hope that it will all be right when it is most needed and that we can accomplish something where we can be personally satisfied. If we succeed, then everyone else will be satisfied,” said Ukić.

"This is currently the best team that Croatia has. All of the greatest players, by status, statistics, general impressions - if this can be ranked - all of the carriers of last year are here. Now it is up to the coach and us to make sure that the new players and the returnees become equally strong and hopefully better than last year, playing basketball right. I think we have all of the prerequisites for it if we stay healthy. This is what should be considered, looking back does not make any sense,” added the captain who last year was the oldest on the team, joined by veterans Marko Tomas, Luka Žorić and Marko Popović.

“With them we have experience, that is not disputable. We hope to stay healthy because it's always a bigger risk when you have an older team. I think that we can help a lot” concluded Ukić.

The coach, Aleksandar Petrović, shared the same sentiment. 

"The backbone of the team is known. They are the backbone that had great success at Turin last year, who won the group at the Olympic Games. The veterans need to bring stability. It may happen that in one game they do not play, but they are there when they are most needed,” said Petrović.

The Croatian national team started preparations today which was the soonest they were given permission for their players at NBA clubs.

"We are lagging behind most of the teams, but I think that we have enough time to get a good rhythm and a good form. In the first two weeks, we have to prepare all of the players. By the end of the tournament in Opatija we all have to be at the same level of energy, and in that second part, from August 17th, we will close in and tactically work to prepare for the 1st of September and our game against Hungary,” added Petrović.

Croatia is a part of Group C in the first round of EuroBasket which will be held in the Romanian city of Cluj. Croatia will face Hungary (1.9), Romania (2.9), Montenegro (4.9), Spain (5.9) and the Czech Republic 7.9). 

The top four teams from the group will head into the knockout stage of the competition which will be held in Istanbul. Depending on the outcome of the first part of the competition, Croatia could face one of the national teams in Group D, including Russia, Turkey, Latvia, Belgium and the United Kingdom. 

Fighting for a place among the 12 players who will represent Croatia at this championship, coach Aleksandar Petrović must choose from a roster of 14 players including Roko Leni Ukić (Cedevita), Marko Popović (Fuenlabrada), Krunoslav Simon (Anadolu Efes), Dominik Mavra (Joventut), Bojan Bogdanović (Inidana Pacers), Marko Tomas (Cedevita), Filip Krušlin (Cedevita), Ivan Ramljak (Cedevita), Dario Šarić (Philadelphia 76ers), Dragan Bender (Phoenix Suns), Tomislav Zubčić (Trabzonspor), Darko Planinić (Dinamo Sassari), Luka Žorić (Cibona) and Ivan Buva (Istanbul BBSK).

The European Championship begins on August 31st and ends on September 17th.

Translated from