Monday, 15 February 2021

Olympic Qualifiers: Croatia Water Polo Defeats the Netherlands (25:8)

February 15, 2021 - In game two of the Olympic Qualifiers in Rotterdam, Croatia water polo defeats the Netherlands (25:8). 

The Croatia water polo team jumped into Rotterdam's Zwemcentrum pool for the second time on Monday, just 24 hours after an impressive performance against Romania to open the competition. Recall, Croatia's 16:6 victory against Romania kicked off a strenuous eight days of water polo in the Netherlands for the Olympic qualifying tournament. The three top teams will secure a spot in Tokyo this summer.

On Monday, Croatia met the Netherlands, a team that surprised the national team of Germany the day before (11:10). 

Croatia kicked off the match with a goal by Josip Vrlic for 1:0 in the first minute, and Maro Jokovic increased Croatia's lead to 2:0 with 5:28 to go. Javier Garcia scored for 3:1, followed by two more goals for Jokovic for 5:1 with a minute to go. Two goals by Luka Bukic in the final minute saw Croatia leading 7:1 into the second quarter. 

Loren Fatovic and Lovre Milos opened the second quarter with goals for 9:1. Andro Buslje scored for 10:2 with 5:45 to go. Bukic and Fatovic scored for 12:3, and Milos scored for 13:4 with two minutes to go. 

Bukic increased Croatia's lead to 16:5 with 6:42 to go in the third quarter, and Vrlic scored for 17:5 one minute later. Milos scored for 18:5 and Bukic for 19:6 to end the third quarter.

Jokovic opened the final quarter with a goal for 20:6. Fatovic made it 21:7 with 4 minutes to go. Rino Buric scored for 22:7 with two minutes left. Luka Loncar scored for 23:8 with a minute and a half to go in the match. Buric scored his second goal of the game for 24:8 with less than a minute left, and Ante Vukicevic scored the final goal of the match for 25:8. 

Croatia will meet France (Tuesday, February 16, at 8:30 pm), Russia (Wednesday, February 17, at 2:30 pm), and Germany (Thursday, February 18, at 8:30 pm) next.

Following the group stage, the quarterfinal stage will commence on Friday, February 19, in which the four best teams from each group will meet.  The pairs will be determined by their positions in the standings (A1 - B4, A2 - B3, A3 - B2, and A4 - B1). 

The four winning teams will play in the semifinals on February 20. The finalists of the qualifying tournament, as well as the national team that wins the match for third place on February 21, will qualify for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, which are scheduled from July 24 to August 8, 2021. 

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Sunday, 14 February 2021

Olympic Qualifiers: Croatia Tops Romania in Game One (16:6)

February 14, 2021 - Croatia tops Romania in game one of the Olympic qualifiers in Rotterdam, Netherlands (16:6).

The Croatia water polo team began the qualifying tournament for the Olympic Games on Sunday in Rotterdam, Netherlands, against Romania. 

Of the 12 national teams, only the three first-place teams will secure a spot in Tokyo. Ivica Tucak's side has a hard fight ahead of them, and their first opponent in Group B was Romania. 

Croatia led the first quarter 5:1, the second quarter 3:1, the third quarter 4:2, and the fourth quarter 4:2 to win the first game of the group stage 16:6. 

The most efficient player for Croatia was Rino Burić with three goals, Marko Macan, Loren Fatović, Luka Lončar, Maro Joković, and Lovre Miloš added two goals each, while Tudor-Andrei Fulea and Vlad-Luca Georgescu scored two goals each for Romania.

Croatia is in Group B with Germany, Russia, Romania, the Netherlands, while the national teams of Greece, Montenegro, Brazil, Canada, Georgia, and Turkey play in Group A.

After the opening against Romania, Croatia plays against the Netherlands (Monday, February 15, at 7 pm), France (Tuesday, February 16, at 8:30 pm), Russia (Wednesday, February 17, at 2:30 pm), and Germany (Thursday, February 18, at 8:30 pm.).

In the earlier match on Sunday, the Netherlands defeated Germany with a final score of 11:10.

Following the group stage, the quarterfinal stage will commence on Friday, February 19, in which the four best teams from each group will meet.  The pairs will be determined by their positions in the standings (A1 - B4, A2 - B3, A3 - B2, and A4 - B1). 

The four winning teams will play in the semifinals on February 20. The finalists of the qualifying tournament, as well as the national team that wins the match for third place on February 21, will qualify for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, which are scheduled from July 24 to August 8, 2021. 

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Olympic Qualifiers: Croatia Water Polo Team Selected for Rotterdam

February 10, 2021 - The Croatia water polo team coach has announced the final list of players with whom he is going to the Olympic qualifying tournament in Rotterdam.

The Olympic qualifiers will be held in Rotterdam from February 14 to 21, and coach Ivica Tucak has decided on 14 players for their trip to the Netherlands.

"This is the most difficult decision for every coach, including me, considering that all the guys from the initial 22 who were invited to the preparations gave their best. Eighteen of them were invited to Zagreb, four of which had to drop out. They are goalkeeper Marcelić, center Dobud, and outside players Benić and Žuvela. I want to sincerely thank all four of them for the maximum effort they put in, their desire and will. With their presence at every training session and match, they made our preparations even better, and I thank them for that. As a coach, this is a tough decision, but it was made based on the players' current state. This does not mean that the same 14 players will travel to Tokyo if we qualify, but I think that these 14 are the best that Croatian water polo has at the moment," said coach Tucak.

The player list includes Marko Bijač, Marko Macan, Loren Fatović, Luka Lončar, Maro Joković, Luka Bukić, Ante Vukičević, Andro Bušlje, Lovre Miloš, Josip Vrlić, Rino Burić, Javier Garcia Gadea, Toni Popadić and reserve Franko Lazić.

The International Federation of Water Sports (FINA) has decided that each team can travel to the tournament with a maximum of 22 people.

"Considering the rhythm that awaits us there, eight games in eight days, extreme effort in physical and psychological terms, I decided to take two physiotherapists and doctors to the tournament. This medical care, along with Professor Kuterovac, who will help regeneration and rest, is critical. For that reason, we leave with 14, not 15 players. Franko Lazić is traveling as a reserve player, who can only join the team if one of the players confirms himself as COVID-positive," Tucak explained.

In Rotterdam, 12 national teams will be divided into two groups. Croatia is in Group B with Germany, Russia, Romania, the Netherlands, and France, and Group A consists of Greece, Montenegro, Brazil, Canada, Georgia, and Turkey. After five games in the group, the four best teams from each group will play in the quarterfinals.

"Every game is difficult, every game brings its own challenge, and every next one is even harder and even more important than the previous one. What we need to focus on is our performance. I think we have quality, and we are better than any national team in the group, but we have to show that in the pool," concluded Tucak.

"The quarterfinal match will be difficult in the psychological sense, and then the semifinals. We have no right to make a mistake. We are opening the tournament with Romania, we know their best player Cosmin Radu well, he is mine and Bušlje's club teammate. I think he will take care of them and will certainly cover them well. We will try to tire him out as much as possible and, of course, hope to win. We expect to qualify for the Olympics. I think that we are the best team and that we will succeed," said Croatia national team player Luka Bukić.

His teammate Andro Bušlje sees the greatest strength of Croatia in the team.

"We believe in each other and encourage each other when we are doing well, as well as in those difficult times when we are not doing well. We did a lot of physical preparation because an extremely demanding tournament awaits us. As the tournament progresses, we will be more and more tired, but I don't think there will be any problems, and we will show ourselves in the best light in Rotterdam. We are doing all this and preparing to get that long-desired visa for Tokyo," said Bušlje.

Croatia travels to Rotterdam on Friday, February 12, and the first match of the tournament will be played on Sunday, February 14 at 7 pm against Romania.

Source: HVS

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.  

Saturday, 6 February 2021

Croatia and USA Water Polo Teams Training in Zagreb ahead of Olympic Qualifiers

February 6, 2021 - The Croatia and USA water polo teams are currently in Zagreb as the 'Barracudas' prepare for the Olympic qualifying tournament in Rotterdam from February 14 to 21, 2021. 

HVS reports that the USA joined Croatia in Zagreb for their Olympic qualifying preparations before the team heads to Rotterdam next week. The USA national team led by Serbian expert Dejan Udovicic will play five training matches with Croatia, while two of them will be official matches. In other words, matches with referees, a scoreboard, and timekeeping.

"We couldn't have wished for a better sparring partner at this moment and for what awaits us. They are a phenomenally physically fit team, exceptional swimmers. They have a rough style of play that is on the verge of exclusion or personal fouls, and that is how I expect Russia and Germany to play against us in Rotterdam in the group. Both France and the Netherlands will probably try because they are technically inferior to us, but they can match our strength, wrestling, and swimming. Thus, the USA will be of great help to us before the tournament in Rotterdam," said Croatia coach Ivica Tucak before the first match on Saturday evening at 7 pm.

For the past few months, the USA first worked together with Greece in Athens, then won the tournament in Podgorica, defeating Montenegro and the B team of Serbia, and before arriving in Zagreb, trained with Serbia in Belgrade. After Zagreb, they plan to train with Italy in Recco. What is special about the current USA national team is that atypical for pre-Olympic years, many of their national team players are playing in Europe. Most of them, as many as 13 of them, are in Greece, and one member of Team USA is also in Croatia - Alex Obert at Jug Adriatic Osiguranje. The reason is quite clear, in the USA, there are mostly universities, while sports complexes and swimming pools are closed. Since there are no competitions, it is only logical that their national team members enjoy what Europe offers. 

Two of the Croatia-USA matches are friendly, though they should have a competitive zeal. Apart from the American way of approaching sports, it should be noted that Croatia will play with full force, especially after Tucak announced that these two games should dispel any minor doubts he has about the player list for Rotterdam.

"These few days with the Americans will surely come in handy. The staff will get an even clearer picture of the team to make the best use of it in Rotterdam," adds the captain of the national team Andro Bušlje.

Center Luka Lončar added:

"What we are doing here now is the final glaze, implementing the coach's tactical ideas, as if we were at the highest level in Rotterdam. The atmosphere is great, as if we have been working together, playing together, and have been friends for several years."

Croatia and the USA will also meet on Sunday, February 7 at 7 pm. Since spectators are not allowed at the Sava swimming pool, you can watch both matches live on Planet Sport 1 or stream them at the Croatian Water Polo Federation Facebook page (hvs.hr).

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.  

Thursday, 7 January 2021

European World League Qualifiers: Croatia Water Polo Team Readies for Montenegro

January 7, 2021 - The Croatia water polo team will meet Montenegro to kick off the European World League qualifiers in Debrecen, Hungary, on Friday at 18:30. 

The Croatia water polo team arrived in Debrecen, Hungary, hosting the European World League qualifiers this year. The first opponent of Ivica Tuck's team is Montenegro in a duel scheduled for Friday at 18:30 pm.

"I think we have prepared well for these three games that await us. The tournament itself is important to see what we still need to work on before we go to the qualifying tournament for the Olympic Games in Rotterdam in February, which is currently the most important for us," said the goalkeeper of the Croatia national team Marko Bijač for HRT.

"Already in the first game, the always unpleasant Montenegro awaits us. I believe that we have quality, so if we play the best we can, I expect that we will reach the semifinals and qualify for the final tournament of the World League in Georgia," said the Croatian goalkeeper.

It will be a reunion of Croatian and Montenegrin water polo players on Hungarian soil one year after the Croatia national team beat its southern neighbors in the group stage (11-10) of the European Championships in Budapest and then lost in a match for third place (9-10).

If Croatia books a victory against Montenegro, Croatia will play in the semifinals on Saturday against the better team from the match between Hungary and Italy. Advancing to the semifinals also brings a spot in the World League's final tournament, which should be held from June 26 to July 2 in the Georgian capital Tbilisi, and which will host the four best national teams from Debrecen.

Just before leaving Zagreb, coach Ivica Tucak briefly summarized Croatia's preparations for HVS.

"In the last days of December, and the first few days of January, which was generally not a long period, we still more or less did what we wanted. We were left with only 2-3 training sessions since we had to abruptly stop preparations due to the earthquake on December 29th. I repeat, we did what we could. We insisted on working on some things that are now waiting for us in Debrecen. The most important thing for us now is to play as much as possible. Certainly, there was not enough time, or it would be better to have more, but we managed from the gym to tactical parts and swimming training. What is certain is that the players did it all with great zeal, without any problems as always," the Barracuda coach emphasized.

There will hopefully be a lot more time to prepare for the key Olympic qualifiers in Rotterdam (February 14-21).

"I also believe we will have enough time. The tournament in Debrecen will certainly be an indicator of what we need to do, our form. We really need this tournament in that sense. Moreover, we are going to Debrecen with the strongest national team because many who follow us know that this has not been the practice so far when it comes to the World League. We often knew how to perform in a combined line-up. However, this is the moment when we no longer have the right to waste time. We have three games ahead of us in which we have to be at the maximum level, and I repeat that it might give us some signals on what we still have to do for Rotterdam," concluded coach Ivica Tucak.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

Tuesday, 15 December 2020

Croatia Water Polo Continues European World League Qualifications in January

December 15, 2020 - The Croatia water polo team will jump back into the European World League Qualifiers in Hungary next month before heading to Rotterdam for the highly anticipated Olympic qualifiers for Tokyo 2020. 

Debrecen, a city in far eastern Hungary, will host the European World League Qualifying Tournament from January 8 to 10, 2021. It is a World League competition from the 2019/20 season, which was interrupted in March this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eight national teams will travel to Debrecen, including Croatia, based on the previous order in the groups that have more or less come to an end.

The 'Barracudas' will play against the national team of Montenegro on the first day of the tournament, the quarterfinal day, at 4:45 p.m.

The quarterfinal match between Serbia - Spain in Debrecen will still be played. However, the result in that match is completely irrelevant because these two teams have already met in the group. Spain won 13:11 and thus qualified for the semifinals.

Quarterfinal pairs, January 8, 2021:

(15.00) Serbia - Spain

(16.45) CROATIA - Montenegro

(18.30) Italy - Hungary

(20.15) France - Greece

Semi-final pairs, January 9, 2021:

(18.30) winner Croatia / Montenegro - winner Italy / Hungary

(20.15) Spain - winner France / Greece

The three best national teams from Debrecen will qualify for the final tournament of the World League.

Croatia will also compete in the 2020 Men's Water Polo Olympic Qualification tournament next year. Originally scheduled to take place in March, the COVID-19 pandemic had other plans, and the tournament was then postponed from May 31 to June 7, 2020, and finally from February 21 to 28,  2021.

The Olympic qualifiers will be held in Rotterdam, and only the top three teams will advance to the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Croatia will play in Group B with the Netherlands, France, Russia, Germany, and Romania.

Croatia water polo will gather for the first time on December 27 this year in Zagreb, and coach Ivica Tucak will announce the candidates next week.

Source: HVS

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Saturday, 9 May 2020

Most Celebrated Croatian Water Polo Coach Retires: Legacy of Ratko Rudic

May 9, 2020 - After an impressive coaching career that spanned almost four decades, the most celebrated Croatian water polo coach has decided he's had enough. A look at the legacy of Ratko Rudic. 

Croatian water polo legend Ratko Rudic ended his coaching career this week after parting ways with Italian club Pro Recco, but remains a pertinent part of the water polo world. 

HRT writes that the former Croatia national team coach won nearly everything he could during his admirable career. He planned to say goodbye by raising the Champions League trophy with Pro Recco, but the coronavirus pandemic had other plans. 

Rudic has won 67 medals, both playing and coaching, of which ten were with the Croatia national team from 2005 to 2012. 

Trophies with the Croatia national team
- Gold at the 2012 London Olympics

- Gold at the 2007 World Championships in Melbourne

- Gold at the European Championships in Zagreb 2010

- Gold in the World League in Almaty 2012

- Silver in the World League in Podgorica in 2009

- Silver at the FINA Cup in Oradea 2010

- Bronze at the World Championships in Rome 2009

- Bronze at the World Championships in Shanghai 2011

- Bronze in the World League in Nis 2010

- Bronze in the World League in Florence 2011

He is the only coach in the world of water polo, and the second coach in team sports in general, to lead three different national teams (Yugoslavia, Italy and Croatia) to the Olympic gold medal, and won another three gold medals with three national teams at the World Championships. 

He also competed in four consecutive Olympic finals - as a player in Moscow in 1980, and then as a coach in Los Angeles in 1984, Seoul in 1988 and Barcelona in 1992. He won medals with five national teams from three continents (Yugoslavia, Italy, USA, Croatia and Brazil).

‘Studious’, ‘a good psychologist’, ‘order, work and discipline’, ‘legend’, ‘demanding’ - this is how his former players describe the greatest water polo coach in history.

At the age of 72, Ratko Rudic decided to say goodbye to his coaching career, which lasted almost four decades. Italian club Pro Recco, with whom he planned to win three trophies with this season, will remain recorded as the last act in his magnificent coaching career. 

Rudic was quarantined in Italy for months, and finally returned to his home in Zagreb just a few days ago, where he is in two weeks of self-isolation.

While it is difficult to count all the medals and titles that Rudic won in his playing and coaching career, Rudic says his favorite is from the London Olympics in 2012 with Croatia.

"It was a tournament that we played in great style, where we dominated in all the games we played and where then, Croatia really played a modern, dynamic, safe and organized water polo," said Rudic.

"My first wish was to bring Ratko because I knew what he carried. How is he different from the others? If 90, or 95 or 99 percent needs to be drawn from a player, he will draw 120 percent from everyone," said the executive director of the Croatian Water Polo Federation, Perica Bukic.

"We went through the hardest and the best, and in the end, when you look at all the results, there is only praise," said Croatia water polo representative Andro Buslje.

"He managed to adapt to the times, which only the greatest can do. I think he helped Croatian water polo a lot and laid the foundations outside the pool. Here, even today, there are top results," says Sandro Sukno.

In addition to the gold medal in London, Ratko Rudic won the world and European gold with Croatia. He was ready to retire after London 2012, but a year later, he wanted a new challenge. He took over the national team of Brazil and worked miracles once again.

"Then, in 2015, we managed to win third place in the World League, which never happened. And what makes me especially happy is that at that time, the Brazilian Olympic Committee declared me the most successful coach in team sports. And we know the quality of team sports in Brazil," said Rudic.

The only trophy missing in Rudic's collection is the Champions League trophy. The plan was to make it happen this season with Pro Recco.

"I had a huge desire, motivation and energy for that last trophy, but, unfortunately, a higher power decided, and I failed to achieve it," said the water polo great.

While we will no longer watch the 'Golden Mustache' by the pool, this coaching genius will continue to share his knowledge and advice in the world of water polo.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.  

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Croatia Water Polo Learns Opponents for Final Olympic Qualifying Tournament

February 12, 2020 - Croatia water polo will have their last chance to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics next month.

Gol.hr reports that the Croatia water polo team will have one final chance to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics this summer in a qualifying tournament to be held in Rotterdam from March 22 to 29, 2020. Croatia will test their strength in a group against Germany, Russia and the Netherlands.

At the draw held at FINA's headquarters in Lausanne on Tuesday, Croatia was placed in Group B, with teams from the Netherlands, Russia, Germany, Argentina, and the second Asian representative, while Georgia, Canada, Brazil, Montenegro, Greece, and the first Asian representative are in Group A.

At the Olympic qualifying tournament, after the group stage, the top four teams from each group will advance to the quarterfinals (1A – 4B, 1B – 4A, 2A- 3B, 2B – 3A). The winners of the quarterfinal matches will play in the semifinals, and the three first-ranked teams will qualify for the Olympic tournament, which will be held in Tokyo from July 24 to August 9.

The tournament favorites are three European teams - Montenegro, Croatia, and Greece.

"It would certainly be better for us if we got Greece or Montenegro in the group, because now in the semifinal we will certainly have an extremely tough rival, as it will be one of those two teams. But we know our way. We have to be the best and finish this story," said Croatia national team coach Ivica Tucak who watched the draw from Varazdin, where Croatia played the 3rd round of the World League against the tournament hosts and rivals in the Olympic qualifying group, the Netherlands. Croatian topped the Netherlands 16-7 (5-3, 2-2, 4-1, 5-1) in Varazdin and advanced to the quarterfinals. With this expected win, Croatia finished second in the group behind Serbia and will play in the quarterfinal against the winners of Group D, Montenegro or Spain, who play later.

Maro Jokovic was the best for Croatia with six goals. Luka Bukic and Rino Buric scored two goals each, as did Milos Filipovic and Jesse Koopman for the Netherlands.

Croatian coach Ivica Tucak said that there was a considerable difference in quality. However, the fourth place from the European Championship in Budapest still weighed heavily on the player's minds.

"Everyone missed a lot of shots. Surely this is still mental from Budapest. It's a good thing this game has come. Let's deal with all the ugly that has left a psychological trace. Budapest remains in the minds of the players," Tucak said.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.

Sunday, 26 January 2020

Euro 2020: Croatia Water Polo Finishes 4th after Losing Bronze Medal Match to Montenegro

January 26, 2020 - The Croatia water polo team met Montenegro in the game for third place and the bronze medal at the European Championship in Budapest.

After falling to Spain on Friday in the semifinal, Croatia met Montenegro in the bronze medal game on Sunday. Croatia and Montenegro had already met in the group stage of the tournament when Croatia won 11:10.

Croatia won the sprint and, thus, the first attack of the game, which resulted in no goal. 

Jokovic scored the first goal of the game from a penalty with 6:25 to go in the first quarter and 0:1 Croatia.

Jokovic scored Croatia’s second goal from another penalty for 0:2. It was 1:2 with just over a minute to go. Vukicevic scored for 1:3, which is how the first quarter ended.

Montenegro opened the second quarter with a goal for 2:3 with 7:25 to go.

Vrlic scored for 2:4 with six minutes to go and Bukic scored for 2:5 with 4:38 to go.

The game was 3:6 for Croatia with two minutes to go in the second quarter.

Loren Fatovic scored for 3:7 with 1:41 to go.

Josip Vrlic scored for 4:8 with five minutes to go in the third quarter. With 2:22 left, Montenegro decreased Croatia's lead to 6:8 - and to 7:8 with 47 seconds to go.

Montenegro won the sprint in the final quarter though neither team was able to score until there were just over five minutes left. Fatovic increased Croatia's lead to 7:9. Montenegro came back to -1 for 8:9 with 4:52 to go.

With 1:36 left, Montenegro equalized at 9:9 - and with 1:00 left, they took the lead for 10:9.

Croatia was unlucky in their final attack, and Montenegro took the win and the bronze medal. 

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.

Friday, 24 January 2020

Euro 2020: Croatia Water Polo Falls to Spain in Semifinal

January 24, 2020 - The Croatia water polo team met Spain in the semifinal of the European Championship on Friday at the Duna Arena in Budapest. 

Before the semifinal match, the water polo federation organized a press conference at which coach Ivica Tucak, executive director Perica Bukic, and team members Marko Bijac and Ante Vukicevic spoke to the press.

“We came here to try to make a big difference. At this point, it means gold, because we know that only gold leads to Tokyo, which is our primary goal. If we do the analysis, a well-played tournament is behind us, but we can and must do even better. We are facing a tough match against an extremely strong opponent, but we are strong too, there is no dilemma there. We will strive to remain grounded both with faith in our capabilities and with the desire to achieve our goal,” Tucak said before the game. 

Croatia won the first sprint for the first attack of the game, though Vukicevic was unlucky. Three minutes into the game, and neither team was able to score. 

However, Marko Macan scored the first goal of the game for 0:1 Croatia with 4:45 to go.

Bijac was brilliant in goal to keep Croatia in the lead. The game ended at 0:1 for Croatia in the first quarter.

Spain finally equalized with seven minutes to go in the second quarter for 1:1.

Buslje scored a rocket with five minutes to go in the second quarter to put Croatia back in the lead for 1:2, though Spain equalized just seconds later for 2:2.

Spain took the lead for the first time in the game with 2:33 to go in the second quarter for 3:2. Bukic equalized with two minutes to go for 3:3.

Spain retook the lead with a minute to go for 4:3, though Loncar equalized with 10 seconds to go for 4:4. 

Croatia won the sprint to start the third quarter. Spain led 5:4 with five minutes to go.

Milos equalized for 5:5 with 2:50 to go in the third quarter.

Bukic equalized for 6:6 with 1:43 to go in the third, which is how the third quarter ended.

Spain retook the lead with 7:13 to go in the final quarter (7:6). 

Jokovic scored the equalizing goal for 7:7 with 5:49 to go, though Spain was up 8:7 with two minutes to go. 

Vukicevic scored for 9:8 with 20 seconds to go, though it was not enough. Spain won 9:8 for a spot in the European Championship final.

Croatia will play for third place against either Hungary or Montenegro. Croatia will now have to qualify for the Olympics at the final qualifying tournament this spring.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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