Sunday, 28 November 2021

2023 Basketball World Cup Qualifiers: Finland Tops Croatia 77:71 in Espoo

November 28, 2021 - Finland tops Croatia 77-71 in the 2nd round of Group C in Espoo, giving Croatia its second defeat in the 2023 Basketball World Cup qualifiers.

After losing to Slovenia 74-76 in a dramatic finish at the opening of the World Cup qualifiers in Zagreb, Croatia was unable to defeat Finland in Espoo. 

Three-pointers played in Finland's favor on Sunday, with 14 scored by the hosts and only four for Croatia. 

Croatia struggled in the first quarter, scoring just seven points in the first seven minutes. Fortunately, Finland wasn't much better, scoring only 5 points more. Coach Veljko Mršić changed 11 players in the first eight minutes! 

At the end of the first quarter, Croatia turned the result in their favor with an 8-0 series (15-12), and at the end of the first quarter, they were up +1. 

The second quarter was even, and the teams went into halftime at 34-34.

The third quarter saw Finland score a 6-0 series for 40-34, then went up +7 (50-43). 3:50 minutes before the end of the third quarter Finland was up by 10 points (53-43 ). By the end of the quarter, Croatia still managed to reduce the score to 59-55.

Six minutes before the end of the game, Croatia was just one basket behind (64-63), which they kept with five minutes to go (67-66). 

With three minutes to go, Croatia still managed to keep the score tight (68-69), and with two minutes left, Croatia led 70-69. That was their first lead in the second half.

Edon Maxhuni returned the home team to a 72-70 advantage with a three-pointer, and Filip Bundović realized one free throw for 72-71 with just over a minute left.

Sasu Salin brought Finland to +4 (75-71) with a new three-pointer 40 seconds before the end. Croatia shot two three-pointers in the next attack, but Rogić and Marčinković did not score. Salin then scored two free throws for 77-71, which was the final score. 

Finland was led to victory by Maxhuni with 15 points and five assists, Shawn Huff scored 14 points and nine rebounds, and Elias Valtonen scored 12 points and eight rebounds.

All 12 Croatia players were among the scorers. Bundović scored 16 points, and Perković and Danko Branković scored 10 points each.

Slovenia and Sweden, which both achieved victories in the first round, will meet tonight in Koper.

Qualifications continue in February when Croatia will play two games against Sweden. The first is scheduled for February 25, and the return in Sweden is three days later.

Europe will send 12 national teams to Asia for the World Cup, which will be held in Japan, the Philippines, and Indonesia in 2023.

There are eight groups of four teams in the first round of European qualifiers, and the three best from each group will advance to the second round. It is important to note that all points from the first part of the competition are transferred.

In the second round, four new groups of six national teams will be formed, and the three best teams from each group will qualify for the World Cup.

Source: HRT

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Thursday, 25 November 2021

2023 Basketball World Cup Qualifiers: Croatia Loses to Slovenia in Dramatic Finish (74:76)

November 25, 2021 - The Croatia basketball team opened the 2023 Basketball World Cup qualifiers with a loss to Slovenia in Zagreb on Thursday night. 

The Croatia basketball team opened the first round of 2023 World Cup qualifications against Slovenia at the Dražen Petrović hall in Zagreb on Thursday. The 2023 Basketball World Cup will be held in Japan, the Philippines, and Indonesia, from Friday, August 25, 2023, to Sunday, September 10, 2023.

Lineups

Croatia: Rogić, Marčinković, Drežnjak, Marić, Rudan. Klupa: Gnjidić, Kalajžić, Badžim, Prkačin, Gabrić, Bundović, Branković, Perković.

Slovenia: Rupnik, Blažić, Prepelič, Dimec, Murić. Klupa: Nikolić, Rebec, Lapornik, Hodžić, Čebešek, Kosi, Macura, Habot.

1st Quarter

With a 3-pointer by Bundović, Croatia led 19:16 at the end of the first 10 minutes. It was 11:3 and 16:10 for Croatia, though Slovenia equalized at 16:16.

2nd Quarter

Slovenia went into halftime leading 39:41. Rogić's 3-pointer was too early and too short for a possible lead at halftime. Croatia also had a 10-point advantage, but it was Slovenia to go into the 3rd quarter ahead. 

3rd Quarter 

Croatia led 56:55 going into the last 10 minutes of the game. Bundović was the first player to hit double-digits for Croatia against Slovenia. 

4th Quarter 

The dramatic final quarter saw Croatia maintain the lead, with two minutes to go ahead 72:69. However, Slovenia ultimately came back in the last two minutes to win it 74:76. 

About two thousand spectators came to see the much younger and promising Croatia play in Zagreb tonight. Bundović ended the game with 16 points, seven rebounds, and five assists. 

The World Cup qualifiers are played in six qualifying cycles of two matches, divided into rounds 1 and 2, as was the case with the qualifiers for the last World Cup. The next cycles are in February 2022, June 2022, August 2022, November 2022, and February 2023.

Croatia plays Finland next in Espoo, part of the more famous Helsinki metropolitan area, on Sunday, November 28 at 18:00.

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Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Croatia Readies for 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup Qualifiers

November 23, 2021 - A press conference ahead of the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup qualifiers and Croatia's first match against Slovenia on Thursday in Zagreb. 

A press conference of the Croatia men's senior national team was held today at the KC Dražen Petrović Press Center ahead of the first qualifying matches for the World Cup, held in 2023 in Japan, Indonesia, and the Philippines, reports HKS.

At the conference, basketball legend Dino Rađa was available to the media for all questions, this time in the capacity of the president of the HKS Expert Council, national team coach Veljko Mršić and national team members Pavle Marčinković and Lovro Gnjidić.

Dino Rađa immediately drew attention to the national team youth: “As you can see, we have rejuvenated the team as much as possible. The atmosphere at training is very good; you feel a good vibe. The guys work as honestly as possible and are unencumbered. As much as youth and inexperience can be their flaw, so much so that it can be turned into an advantage because they don't carry some former results. They have only one task, and that is to get off the court with bloody knees, and everything else will be forgiven. I wish them good luck!"

Coach Veljko Mršić continued Dino's thoughts: “True, a new national team. A combination of youth and experience will be the best possible in the last two windows in late autumn 2022 and early 2023. We will certainly be good even now because, as Dino said, the guys are doing really well. The atmosphere is great; from the first day of the gathering, they look very good in training and commitment and behavior on and off the court. I'm sure it will lead us to play good basketball, without worrying about the result, and burdened only with one thing: to be very concentrated and think of each possession as if it were the last. The players have a lot of room for improvement, and I expect us to be better from game to game."

Pavle Marčinković is one of the national team members with the most experience: “The atmosphere is excellent. Not to forget, there are those of us who have been through a couple of cycles, so even though this is a newer and younger team, our goals, postulates, and principles are still the same. We will continue to build the result on a good defense and a strong transition back and forth. I think that we have a lot to look forward to with these young players; they play important roles in their clubs, and they are full of self-confidence.”

Twenty-year-old Lovro Gnjidić is part of the senior national team for the first time: “Coming to the senior national team, after all the younger categories, is a dream come true. The team is great, we get along great, and I think we clicked well."

When asked if he was nervous about his debut, Lovro answered: "It may be small, but I am focused, and I will do my best."

Croatia - Slovenia is scheduled for Thursday, November 25, at 20:45 in KC Dražen Petrović in Zagreb. Tickets can be purchased through ulaznice.hr and at the box office on Wednesday from 10 am to 6 pm and on Thursday from 10 am until the end of halftime.

Finland - Croatia is played in Espoo, part of the metropolitan area of ​​the more famous Helsinki, on Sunday at 18:00. You can watch both matches on the SportKlub program.

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Tuesday, 16 November 2021

FIBA Basketball World Cup Qualifiers: Croatia Readies in Zagreb this Weekend

November 16, 2021 - Croatia's preparations for the FIBA Basketball World Cup qualifiers will begin this weekend in Zagreb with a broader list of 24 players. Croatia's first qualifying match is on November 25 against Slovenia. 

The Croatia basketball team coach, Veljko Mršić, has announced a wider list of 24 candidates for two upcoming World Cup qualifiers. Most of the players are from the Croatian league and will gather in Zagreb this Saturday to Monday. The list also includes Filip Krušlin and Marin Marić, currently without a club, reports HKS.

The first qualifying round for the 2023 World Cup is just around the corner. Already on Thursday, November 25, at 20:45, the first and most demanding match against Slovenia will be played, and on Sunday, November 28, the first cycle will end in Helsinki against Finland. 

"Yes, this is a wider list that we will shorten after Wednesday and the 11th round of the HT Premier League. Most of the players are from our league, and by then, the situation with injuries and possible coronavirus infections will crystallize. The national team will gather from Saturday night to Monday when we should be in full force. Also, a little earlier, on November 18, I invited a group of players that I want to check further, for example, Filip Krušlin and Marin Marić, who do not have clubs at the moment. There are also some other players who are not on the list of 24 but I want to see them in training because I am counting on them in the future," said coach Mršić.

Player List: Roko Badžim – Szolnok, Darko Bajo – KK Split, Josip Batinić – KK Cedevita Junior, Danko Branković – KK Cibona, Filip Bundović – KK Cedevita Junor, Mateo Čolak – KK Široki, Dario Drežnjak – KK Zadar, Mateo Drežnjak – KK Cibona, Tomislav Gabrić – Elan Chalon, Lovro Gnjidić – KK Cibona, Mario Hezonja – UNICS Kazan, Antonio Jordano – KK Zadar, Mate Kalajžić – KK Gorica, Filip Krušlin, Pavle Marčinković – KK Zadar, Marin Marić, Dominik Mavra – KK Zadar, Toni Perković – KK Split, Roko Prkačin – KK Cibona, Krešimir Radovčić – KK Cibona, Roko Rogić – Szolnok, Matej Rudan – Mega Vizura, Antonio Vranković – KK Cibona i Karlo Žganec – KK Split.

The FIBA World Cup qualifiers are played in six qualifying cycles of two matches, divided into rounds 1 and 2, as was the case for the last World Cup qualifiers. The next cycles are February 2022, June 2022, August 2022, November 2022, and February 2023.

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Friday, 12 November 2021

Croatia Women's Basketball Top Bulgaria to Open 2023 EuroBasket Qualifiers

November 12, 2021 - Croatia women's basketball convincingly topped Bulgaria 73-84 in Botevgrad in the first qualifying match for the 2023 European Championship (EuroBasket).

After the first quarter, Bulgaria gained an advantage of 5 points (27-22). This was followed by a great opening of the second quarter for Croatia and a 10-0 series for an express takeover (27-32). By halftime, Stipe Bralić's team was up by 10 (38-48).

The third quarter was marked by the attacking play of both teams. After Andrijana Cvitković's three-pointer, Croatia was up 49-63, and Bulgaria fought back with a series of 5-0 for 54-63. Vital points were then scored by Iva Slonjšak, and Croatia entered the last quarter leading Croatia 59-70.

The minor attacking crisis at the opening of the final quarter was compensated by an excellent defense, so three minutes without points did not affect the result. Croatia had their most significant advantage during the game at 61-76. Bulgaria scored 4 points in a row and, with an aggressive defense, made Croatia nervous. However, no one could stop Andrijana Cvitković. With a new three-pointer, she took Croatia to an unattainable +14 (68-82). By the end, Bulgaria had only managed to mitigate the defeat to 73-84.

Coach Stipe Bralić: "Tough match, we practically gathered 14 players from 14 clubs across Europe with two to three training sessions and played against the home team of Bulgaria, a hugely well-coordinated team. Bulgaria has been playing in the same team for seven or eight years; most of their players are from two home clubs, they had a week of training together before this game, and that was obvious. 

They have extremely good shooters, they hit everything in the first 10 minutes, and it was not easy to get out of that situation. However, with great actions and a pretty good attack in the second quarter, we managed to break the game with counters and three-pointers and take the 10-point lead. In the second half, that advantage was maintained, but, I say, it was a very awkward game to start the qualifications against a solid and experienced team. Nevertheless, the girls died on the field, even when we were losing by a few points, they didn't lose their head, but showed their quality."

Captain Ivana Dojkić: "We played a good game; I'm proud of all the girls. I think we lost focus in just a few moments and didn't keep the game in our hands. But we are a young team, we need to work on it, and with more experience in the future, we play smart in situations like this. I am positively surprised with the new girls in the national team; all the girls who came in from the bench gave extra energy, which we need - that everyone can contribute to our game. We always gain confidence with a victory, but on Sunday, we will have a tough game. We have nothing to lose; we will play a quality game and enjoy what we are doing."

Iva Slonjšak: "The first quarter was not at our level, but then we started waking up and playing our game. Today, we were not constant, but I am happy with the larger number of players who reached a double-double. Now we have to see what things need to be corrected to prepare for Serbia."

Andrijana Cvitković: "It was quite a difficult end due to several personal mistakes, but we managed to fight and play smart without fouls, which was important to keep the rhythm of the game. Most importantly, we managed to win. Serbia is waiting for us; we all know that it will be a tough match. Every girl needs to be ready; let's do our best and hope, of course, for the best."

Source: HKS

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Tuesday, 9 November 2021

Brooklyn Nets in Croatia? Biserka Petrović on Dražen's 30th Anniversary Plans

November 9, 2021 - Basketball superstar Dražen Petrović was tragically killed in a car accident in Germany 28 years ago. His mother, Biserka, spoke of having the Brooklyn Nets in Croatia to honor Dražen on the 30th anniversary of his passing in 2023. 

On the HRT Sport and Music show, Biserka Petrović exclusively announced the arrival of the 'New Jersey Nets' in Croatia while presenting the recently published book The Greatest Successes of Croatian Sports by Davor Lulić and Dražen Beraković. In addition, the mother of deceased basketballer Dražen Petrović spoke to Lovorko Magdić about what they have in mind to honor one of Croatia's greatest. 

"If we don't write it down, it didn't happen. We have so many athletes in all sports that we need to have two or three more of these books," Petrović said to HRT.

"In front of the Dražen Museum is the Light of Croatian Sport; it is not just for him; it is for all athletes. Isn't it nice to preserve everything and to take care of our heritage and the athletes who left their legacy? So we have to work on that," she added and then revealed her plans.

"The foundation has made its expansion of the Museum, and we are working on the project. For the 30th anniversary, we are negotiating with the New Jersey Nets (Dražen played for the New Jersey Nets from 1991 to 1993, though the club is now called the Brooklyn Nets) about playing a game in Croatia. There is no specific date yet; we will leave it to them when the date suits them, we will not tie it to a birthday or anniversary, but something big has to be done for the 30th anniversary."

Could this mean the Brooklyn Nets will face the Croatia national team?

"We will see, it is difficult to put together the best players from Europe, but we will work on that. I can't say more now, but we are working on it," concluded Biserka Petrović.

On June 7, 1993, Dražen Petrović, a member of the Croatia basketball team and one of the best Croatian athletes of all time, was killed in a car accident on the motorway near the German city of Ingolstadt.

He was a basketball player and a role model, the Mozart of sports, but tragically died at the age of 29 during the peak of his playing career.

Dražen played his last match against Slovenia in the qualifications for the European Championship in Wroclaw. It was June 5, 1993. The Croatia national team returned from Poland by plane, but Dražen set off in a car with his girlfriend behind the wheel, with no idea it would be his last drive.

 

Dražen was born on October 22, 1964, in Šibenik. His love for basketball has been with him since he was a small child. His exceptional perseverance and dedication to daily training with undeniable talent quickly made him one of the best in all age groups.

At the age of sixteen, he joined the Šibenik first team. He brought his hometown to the title of Yugoslav champion in 1983.

Cibona and Real Madrid were unreachable to all European clubs when Dražen played in their ranks. Then, having achieved everything in Europe, he went to the strongest league globally - the NBA.

Although he was on the bench more than he played for the first season due to politics inside Portland, he showed his phenomenal talent with the New Jersey Nets two years later. He was the team’s top shooter in 1992 (primarily at three-pointers) and the best European to have played in the NBA league so far. 

 

That year, Dražen led the Croatia national team to its greatest success, silver at the Olympic Games in Barcelona, ​​in the final clash with the only real Dream Team played by the best representatives of the NBA and some of the best basketball players in history - Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Scottie Pippen, and others.

As a player, he received the Franjo Bučar State Award for Sports in 1992, and posthumously, this time for his life's work, he received the same award in 2002.

 

He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002.

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Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Croatia Basketball 2023 FIBA World Cup Qualifier Group Announced

September 1, 2021 - The Croatia basketball 2023 FIBA World Cup qualifier group has been announced! 

In Tuesday's draw for the World Cup qualifiers, Croatia learned its European opponents. Croatia will face Sweden, Slovenia, and Finland in the hope of qualifying for a place in the 2023 FIBA World Cup in Indonesia, Japan, and the Philippines (Jakarta, Okinawa, Manila).

The draw took place at the Patrick Baumann Basketball House in Mies, Switzerland. It was closed due to the epidemiological situation and could only be watched live on the FIBA ​​YouTube channel.

The qualifiers will be played in six cycles over 15 months. Eighty countries acquired the right to qualify, and in a total of 420 matches, 32 national teams will eventually qualify.

32 national teams entered the qualifications at the European level, and we will only see 12 of them at the World Cup. The national teams were divided into eight groups (A-H) of four teams, and in the first phase, each team will have the opportunity to play six games, i.e., home and away games against each opponent in the group.

Group A: Serbia, Slovakia, Belgium, Latvia
Group B: Belarus, Great Britain, Greece, Turkey,
Group C: Croatia, Sweden, Finland, Slovenia
Group D: Israel, Germany, Estonia, Poland
Group E: France, Portugal, Hungary, Montenegro
Group F: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Czech Republic
Group G: Georgia, Northern Macedonia, Spain, Ukraine
Group H: Russia, the Netherlands, Iceland, Italy

The last-place team in each group is eliminated from the race for the World Cup, and four new groups (I-L) are formed with six participating countries each, which transfer their results to the next phase. Each national team will play six games at home and away against three national teams in their group with which they did not meet in the qualifiers. After all the matches are played, the three first-place teams from each group will win a ticket to the World Cup.

22.11-30.11, 2021

25.11. Croatia - Slovenia
28.11. Finland - Croatia

21.2-1.3, 2022

25.2. Croatia - Sweden
28.2. Sweden - Croatia

27.6-5.7, 2022

30.6. Slovenia - Croatia
3.7. Croatia - Finland

22.8-30.8, 2022

7.11.-15.11.2022.

20.2.-28.2.2023.

Since the European Championship starts on September 1, 2022, the fourth qualifying cycle of the World Cup will also serve as a preparation for the European Championship.

Source: HKS

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Saturday, 28 August 2021

2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup Qualifiers Draw: Croatia in 4th Strongest Group

August 28, 2021 - Croatia has learned it will be in the fourth-strongest group in the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup qualifiers draw. 

The Croatia national basketball team is placed in the fourth-strongest group for the 2023 World Cup qualifiers draw, which will be held on Tuesday, August 31, at the headquarters of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) in Mies, Switzerland, starting at noon.

Croatian is in the same group as Montenegro, Latvia, and Ukraine and cannot play these teams in the first round of qualifications. The 2023 World Cup will be hosted by the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia from August 25 to September 10, 2023.

Spain, France, Slovenia, and Serbia are in the first strong group of the European part of the qualifications, in which 32 national teams will fight for 12 places leading to the World Cup. The national teams are distributed according to the position on the current FIBA ​​rankings.

The second group includes Italy, Lithuania, Greece, and Germany, and the third includes the Czech Republic, Poland, Russia, and Turkey. In the fifth is Finland, Georgia, Belgium, and Hungary, in the sixth is Great Britain, Israel, Bosnia, and Herzegovina, and the Netherlands, in the seventh is Iceland, Estonia, Bulgaria, and Belarus, and in the eighth is Northern Macedonia, Sweden, Portugal, and Slovakia.

Eight groups with four national teams will be drawn, from which the first three will continue the competition in the second round, transferring all the results from the first part. In the second part of the qualifications, by merging three national teams, four new groups of six teams will be created, of which the three best will qualify for the World Cup.

The same qualification method was applied for the 2019 World Cup in China, the first in which 32 national teams competed and Croatia failed to qualify.

In six qualifying cycles, each national team will play 12 matches, six at home and away.

The first qualifying cycle in which each national team will play two matches is from November 22 to 30 this year. Then, two more matches will be played from February 21 to March 1, 2022, and the first round of qualifications will end from June 27 to July 5 next year.

The second part of the qualifiers will start with two games from August 22 to 30, 2022, continue with the second cycle from November 7 to 15, and end in 2023 with the last two games from February 20 to 28. 

Croatia played their last big competition in 2017 in the European Championship where they were defeated by Russia in the round of 16. Their next big competition will be EuroBasket 2022, hosted by the Czech Republic, Georgia, Italy, and Germany. Croatia is placed in Group C, which is hosted by Milan, with the national teams of Greece, Ukraine, Great Britain, and Estonia.

Croatia has played in the World Cup three times so far. The generation led by Toni Kukoč and Dino Rađa won a bronze medal in Canada in 1994. At the 2010 World Cup in Turkey, Croatia was defeated by Serbia in the round of 16, and four years later in Spain, Croatia lost to France in the same phase of the competition.

Source: HRT 

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Saturday, 3 July 2021

No Tokyo for Croatia after Losing to Germany in Olympic Qualifying Tournament Semifinal (86:76)

July 3, 2021 - Croatia nearly had the win to advance to the Olympic Qualifying Tournament final on Sunday, but Germany was better in the last 5 minutes to take the lead and ultimately the win (86:76). 

Croatia and Germany met in the semifinal of the Olympic basketball qualifying tournament at Spaladium Arena on Saturday. 

Croatia was unimpressive in their two group stage games, recording a tough defeat against Brazil (94:67) and a close victory over Tunisia (75:70).

Part of the reason for their poor performance can also be found in the stands. There were about 2,500 people at the first game, and barely 1,000 in the second. In an arena that holds 12,000, Croatia couldn't quite take advantage of playing at home. Today, however, Hajduk fan group Torcida came out to save Croatia basketball and called on all members to attend today's semifinal. 

Torcida has not organized their attendance at a Croatia basketball match for about 30 years.

Germany v. Croatia 

1st quarter

Hezonja scored Croatia's first basket for 3:2. Bogdanović made 1/2 free throws to make the score 5:3. Žižić scored both free throws awarded shortly after to even the score at 5:5. 

Ukić's floating jump shot saw Croatia down by 1 point - 8:7. A stellar Bogdanović dunk gave Croatia the lead for the first time at 8:9. With 4 minutes to go, Germany led 12:9. 

Bogdanović made it 15:12 with another 3-pointer. Bogdanović netted both free throws for 17:14 with 2 minutes to go. A 2pt driving layup by Bogdanović made it 17:16 and a foul drawn on him during the play saw him make a free throw to equal the score - 17:17.

Bogdanović put Croatia in the lead with another free throw for 17:18 and scored his second for +2. Sakić scored a 3pt jump shot for 17:22 Croatia! 

Sakić scored 1/2 free throws for 19:23 just before the final buzzer of the 1st quarter. 

2nd quarter

A Germany 3-pointer opened the 2nd quarter for 22:23, but Jordano quickly put Croatia back in a comfortable lead with a free throw for 22:26. 

Germany retook the lead thanks to a 3-pointer at 27:26. And it was 31:26 shortly after that. 

Planinić scored for 31:28 and a Bogdanović dunk made it 37:30. A 3-pointer from the Utah Jazz player made it 39:33. Hezonja made two free throws for 41:35 with 3 minutes to go. 

Hezonja scored a 3-pointer for 41:38 - and yet another for 43:41 with 2 minutes to go! Hezonja was on fire to level the score with two free throws - 43:43. Bogdanović put Croatia back in the lead with one minute to go at 43:45, which was the final score of the 2nd quarter! 

3rd quarter

Bogdanović scored the first basket of the 3rd quarter with 7:13 to go - 43:47. A Rogić 3-pointer saw Croatia up by 5 - 45:50. 

A Žižić layup made it 48:52 and a single Bogdanović free trow 48:53 with just under 5 minutes to go. Bogdanović scored for 50:55 and nailed a 3pt jump shot after. A Sakić layup made it 52:60 with two minutes to go. 

Croatia was only up by 5 with a minute to go - 56:60. Žižić scored 1/2 free throws for 56:61. Bogdanović scored two free throws to end the quarter 56:63! 

4th quarter

Hezonja scored a 2pt pullup jump shot for 58:65. Bogdanović continued his brilliant play with another 3-pointer for a +10 Croatia lead - 58:68. 

Jordano scored a 3-pointer for 63:71 with just over 7 minutes to go in the game. Bogdanović scored a 2pt floating jump shot for 67:73 and a free throw for 67:74. 

Germany was only behind by 3 with 5 minutes to go - 72:74.  Germany was awarded two free throws which they made to even the score with 4:30 to go. 

Germany took after making two free throws for 76:74. Bogdanović was awarded two free throws in the next play which made fo 76:76 with 3 minutes to go! 

Germany made two free throws for a +4 lead with 1:33 to go - 80:76. 

The game ended 86:76 for Germany.

Germany and Brazil will meet in the final on Sunday, July 4 at 7:30 pm. Only the winner of the tournament will qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. 

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Thursday, 1 July 2021

Split Olympic Basketball Qualifiers: Croatia Moves to Semis after Dramatic Win against Tunisia (75:70)

July 1, 2021 - Croatia moves to the semifinals of the Olympic basketball qualifiers in Split after a dramatic win against Tunisia. 

Croatia opened their Olympic qualifying campaign on Wednesday against Brazil at Spaladium Arena in Split. After three years, Croatia's best basketball player Bojan Bogdanović played an official game in the Croatia jersey again. 

After Brazil topped Croatia in their first game of the Olympic basketball qualifiers in Split on Wednesday (94:67), Croatia and Tunisia met on Thursday. The winner of the game would go to the semifinals. 

1st quarter

Bogdanović opened the scoring for Croatia with a 2pt fadeaway jump shot for 2:3. Bogdanović made two free throws to make it 4:5. Hezonja made 2/2 free throws for 5:5. 

Croatia took the lead at 7:5 thanks to a Hezonja dunk, and a layup seconds later made it 12:5! Hezonja was on fire. Tunisia called a timeout.

Ante Žižić nailed two free throws for 14:8. Hezonja scored his 10th point of the game for 16:8 with 2:27 to go. Žižić made a 2pt layup for 18:10. A Bilan dunk ended the 1st quarter 20:11.

2nd quarter 

Jordano scored a 2pt driving layup for 22:14 at the start of the 2nd quarter. Bilan nailed two free throws for 24:16. A layup and free throw by Bilan brought Croatia to 27:16 before Bogdanović made it 29:16 with 6 minutes to go. 

Žižić scored his 5th basket thanks to a free throw for the +10  Croatia lead (30:20). A Žižić dunk made it 32:20 and a free throw 33:22. 

Hezonja recorded his 13th point with a stunning 3-pointer for 36:22. Žižić was unstoppable, too, with a tip-in for 38:25. He scored again for 40:28 with just over a minute to go. Hezonja scored for a +14 lead (42:28) which was the score at the end of the 2nd quarter. 

3rd quarter 

Ukić started the 3rd quarter with a 2pt jump shot, but Tunisia came back to score 6 points for 46:36. Croatia's comfortable lead quickly diminished and they were only up 6 (46:40). Bogdanović nailed a 3-pointer to wake Croatia up for 49:40. Tunisia was only down by 4 with 5 minutes to go - 49:45. 

Hezonja scored a free throw and a 2pt jump shot for 52:47. Croatia was only up by 2 points with 2 minutes to go - 52:50. Hezonja scored for +4 (54:50). A shocking display by Croatia saw Tunisia take the lead thanks to a 3-pointer for 56:57 to end the 3rd quarter.

4th quarter

After a dramatic start to the final quarter, Bogdanvić scored a 3-pointer to put Croatia back in the lead by 2 (59:57). A tip-in by Marčinković made it 61:57.

Žižić dunked for 63:59 and Tunisia called a timeout. Hezonja scored for 65:62 with 4 minutes to go. 

A foul on Bogdanović saw him make both free throws for +4 Croatia with just under 3 minutes to go. 

Hezonja scored for 69:65 and a Tunisia timeout was called with a minute and a half to go. Croatia was only up by 2 with 38 seconds to go. Marčinković scored a 3-pointer to save the day for 72:67. Ukić then fouled for 3 Tunisia free throws - it was 72:79 with 18 seconds to go. 

With 6 seconds to go, Hezonja scored 1/2 free throws for 73:70. The game ended at 75:70 for Croatia. 

After the group stage, there is a day of rest, and on July 3, the semifinal matches are scheduled. Croatia will play Germany in the semis on Saturday. 

The final match is scheduled for July 4 at 7:30 pm. Only the winner of the tournament will qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. Croatia's group crosses over with Germany, Russia, and Mexico.

The Split tournament and the other three hosted by Belgrade, Kaunas, and Victoria in Canada are all scheduled from June 29 to July 4, 2021. 

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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