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, 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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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. 

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Thursday, 24 June 2021

Olympic Qualifying Preparations in Split: Croatia Basketball Tops Puerto Rico in Friendly

June 24, 2021 - Croatia basketball topped Puerto in a friendly match during their Olympic qualifying preparations in Split. 

The Croatia men's national team defeated Puerto Rico 74-59 in the preparatory match for the Olympic qualifying tournament in Split at Spaladium arena next week.

After an even first quarter, Croatia pulled ahead in the second and, despite a poorer shooting performance (three-pointers 2-18), easily controlled the game until the end. It should be emphasized that Croatia will be at an even higher level in the Olympic qualifying tournament, especially when Bojan Bogdanović officially joins the team. Bojan arrived in Split on Wednesday and followed the course of events from the bench.

DSC01820_2.jpeg

Burak Canboy

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Burak Canboy

Croatia played an excellent three quarters defensively and the chemistry and the spirit of unity can be felt in the national team.

It should be mentioned that Mario Hezonja is in great form. He scored 13 points with 6 assists and 3 rebounds. Miro Bilan had 3 rebounds with 15 points, and Ante Žižić (11 points, 5 rebounds) gives great confidence to his teammates by playing under the basket.

DSC02062_2.jpeg

Burak Canboy

Although Puerto Rico is behind Slovenia in terms of quality, Croatia is certainly improving. And at the right time.

DSC02339.jpeg

Burak Canboy

Veljko Mršić - Croatia coach

"We played a good game, above all great in defense, except for the first 10 minutes. I would say that the defensive performance is in line with what we showed in the first four qualifying matches, the European Championship. The attack worked well at times. However, I expect it to be better, more fluid and to get rid of the ball faster. Following that was our game in the final quarter. That's what we want. If we play that way, we will have many good attacking positions, and the shots will start to come in. Today we shot badly, but most of those shots were open shots from crafted actions, so that doesn’t worry me.

DSC03077_2.jpeg

Burak Canboy

Last night we had a solid two-hour training, and the players were certainly tired from it. We’re missing two players who are proudly playing in the NBA Western Conference Finals, and we can’t use them. We will play for them in this tournament as well. We have a good team composed of quality players, but our task is to make a top team because that is the only way to achieve the goal we have. We have not placed any imperative, nor do we want to place it. The current imperative is to be better with each new training. To play as a team, keep this level of defense because then no matter what the attack will be, we can be satisfied and have a great chance to go to the Olympics. We will also need a lot of support from the stands. You saw how much that meant to Split in the Croatian Championship finals and then to Višnjik Zadar. We expect something like that in Split as well, for the audience to be the sixth player and to find that path to success together.”

DSC02389_2.jpeg

Burak Canboy

Miro Bilan:

"One of the tasks we were given in the locker room was related to a smaller number of received points than against Slovenia. Slovenia went twice over 90, and as the defense has adorned us in the qualifications so far, it is clear why it was imperative, so we succeeded. We played a great 30 minutes as a team with dedicated defense. Until the Olympic qualifying tournament, we have to work on adapting Bogdanović. His appearance instills confidence in us, but because of his quality, it will attract the attention of opposing defenses and open the way for others to make shots. Among other things, opponents will have to prepare a lot more for him and no one doubts that he is a big plus for us. It will surely fall into place. Today, we made some attacks much easier. There's still room, but I don't care about the attack. Hezonja is in great shape, so is Ukić. I don't care about tonight's trio as long as we share assists and play this kind of defense."

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Burak Canboy

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Burak Canboy

Mateo Drežnjak:

"Although it is a friendly match, it is important that we won to raise our self-confidence before the tournament, after two defeats to Slovenia. We started a little more relaxed and then raised the defense, which we did not have in two games against Slovenia. As soon as we raised our aggression in the second quarter and scored a couple of easy points, we were up by 6-7 points, and then by 10, and the advantage grew. Everyone got a chance, and I sincerely hope that there will be more spectators at the qualifiers to support us in a week because it’s easier with the fans. Every match in the tournament will be difficult. The most important thing is to get out of the group first, and then from game to game and, if possible, win the tournament."

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Burak Canboy

Source: HKS

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Sunday, 20 June 2021

Huge Boost for Croatia: Bojan Bogdanović in Split for Olympic Qualifiers!

June 20, 2021 - Croatia is thrilled to have Bojan Bogdanović in Split for the Olympic qualifiers at Spaladium Arena from June 29 to July 4! 

Croatia basketball player and NBA star for the Utah Jazz Bojan Bogdanović confirmed in an interview for US media that he would play for the national team in the Olympic qualifying tournament, which is being held in Split. Bogdanović and Utah were relegated from the NBA playoffs after a series against the LA Clippers, reports HRT.

"I will play for the national team, so I will already be in full training in seven or eight days," said Bogdanović.

After two defeats in friendly matches against Slovenia, Croatia's next game in preparation for the Olympic qualifiers will be against Puerto Rico on June 23 at the Spaladium Arena, where the tournament will be held for a spot in Tokyo. Veljko Mršić's team will compete against the same national team one day later, on Thursday, June 24.

The tournament for Tokyo is played from June 29 to July 4.

Croatia, Tunisia, and Brazil will meet in the group stage of the qualifying tournament in Split in June. Croatia will play against Brazil on June 30 at 8 pm and the next day against Tunisia at the same time. Brazil and Tunisia will play on June 29, also from 8 pm. After the group stage, there is a day of rest, and on July 3, the semifinal matches are scheduled. 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 scheduled from June 29 to July 4, 2021. 

The competition format has changed in Tokyo. Instead of how it was previously held, in which 12 national teams were divided into two groups of six, and the four best from the group stage continued to compete in the quarterfinals by knockout, the new system divides the teams into three groups of four.

The first two national teams from each of the three groups will advance to the quarterfinals and join the two best of the three third-placed teams. With this system, each match of the group stage becomes even more important, and to win an Olympic medal, it is now necessary to play six instead of the previous eight matches.

The Olympic qualifying tournament at the Spaladium Arena will also be held in front of spectators, reported Slobodna Dalmacija last week. 

At the request of the Croatian Basketball Federation and with the support of the Chief of the Split Civil Protection Headquarters, Bojan Ivošević, consent for the presence of fans in compliance with epidemiological measures was given by the County Civil Protection Headquarters.

Physical distance must be implemented, i.e., a distance of at least two meters must be maintained, and the spectators, technical and organizational staff present must meet one of the following conditions: that they received the second dose of vaccine more than 14 days ago, that they overcame COVID-19 in the last 180 days, that they had recovered from COVID-19 and were vaccinated with a single dose, or that they had been negative on a PCR test, no older than 72 hours, or tested negative in the past 48 hours on a rapid antigen test.

The organizer, the Croatian Basketball Federation, is responsible for controlling the measures and conditions.

The Croatia national team will thus get the desired support from the stands, which could ultimately be its advantage for a spot in Tokyo.

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Saturday, 19 June 2021

Slovenia Records Second Victory in Croatia Basketball Friendly Preparation Series

June 19, 2021 - Slovenia claimed their second victory in the Croatia basketball friendly preparation series held this week in Rijeka and Ljubljana.

In the second friendly preparatory match, Slovenia defeated Croatia at Arena Stožice in Ljubljana. Croatia looked more determined and coherent than in the first game in Rijeka. 

Croatia was led by the excellent Mario Hezonja, who scored 37 points with 10 defensive rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals. Captain Roko Leni Ukić scored 23 points and assisted five times, and Miro Bilan reached double-digits with 10 points.

The very beginning of the game was not particularly promising. Slovenia took a 23-8 lead in the first quarter on the wings of Luka Dončić and Klemen Prepelič. Mario Hezonja broke up the bad spell with a three-pointer, and at the very end of the first quarter, Miro Bilan scored with a dunk for 26:15. Slovenia still had a serious lead.

Croatia took off in the second quarter, scoring 37 points in 10 minutes. Despite the good synergy between Luka Dončić and Mike Tobey, Croatia with Hezonja and Ukić showed that it could do much better than the predictions before the game.  

The second half started with an advantage for Croatia, and in the third quarter, Croatia achieved the biggest advantage at 56:64 after a dunk by Luka Babić. The game was then even at 65:65 and 70:70, but Slovenia concluded the third quarter with 77:70 and ultimately sealed the victory in front of 8,000 home fans (97:88). Slovenia's most efficient players were Prepelič (31 points), Tobey (26 points), and 10 points with an incredible 17 assists from Dončić.

Coach Veljko Mršić: “The match was offensive on both sides. We played better than a couple of days ago in Rijeka, but we failed to keep that rhythm with a shortened rotation. We played a good game against a great team, and we managed what no one in the NBA did - keep Luka Dončić at 10 points (laughs), but we didn't manage to reduce his assists. He was impressive and emotional in front of the home crowd. Jokes aside, we took a step forward from what we did a few days ago. Now we are completing the team - the day after tomorrow, Ante Toni Žižić is arriving, and we are expecting a clash between the Clippers and Utah to see if Ivica Zubac or Bojan Bogdanović will come. We expect to be at an even higher level in 10 days and to achieve what we want - qualifying for the Olympic Games."

Captain Roko Leni Ukić: “We played a better game than two days ago. We can be somewhat satisfied, and above all, offensive, although there is certainly still plenty of room for improvement. We had a chance to play against one of the best players in the world. Even though he was not in perfect shape, it was obvious how much he means to his team, how much he plays everything around him, and that is the best test for what awaits us. I think we can get a lot of positive things out of today, but we have to be aware that we have to play better defense if we want to win."

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Wednesday, 17 March 2021

Croatian Basketball Federation Finalizing Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Split

March 17, 2021 - Croatia basketball will compete at the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Split, to be held at Spaladium Arena from June 29 to July 4, 2021. 

As part of organizing the Olympic Qualifying Tournament, which takes place from June 29 to July 4 at the Spaladium Arena in Split, the Croatian Basketball Federation (HKS) delegation consisting of President Stojko Vranković, Vice President Nikola Rukavina, and Secretary-General Josip Vranković held meetings in Split-Dalmatia County and the City of Split. Prefect Blaženko Boban, accompanied by the county head for social activities, sports, and culture Tomislav Đonlić, made all county resources available to organize it.

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Ivica Čavka/HKS

"From Split to Tokyo, let that be the motto of our meeting. This is a demanding project, the biggest sporting event this year, and we are happy that it is being held in Split," said Boban.

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Ivica Čavka/HKS

HKS President Stojko Vranković added: “Thank you for the hospitality of the County, thank you to the Government of the Republic of Croatia and Prime Minister Plenković for their support in organizing this tournament. We at HKS believe that a real Croatian basketball festival will take place in Split.”

Mayor Andre Krstulović-Opara is also happy that the Croatia national team will play in Split.

“I support the organization of the tournament with great passion and participation. When the tournament takes place, there will be another mayor, but the size of this event is significant for the City of Split and Croatia. I regret that there will probably be no fans; I’m sure the atmosphere would be fiery. The arrival of the national team in our city is a great thing. You can see from our KK Split that basketball is taking big steps forward, that is, returning to where it was," said Krstulović-Opara, who received the HKS delegation together with the head of social activities Mato Omazić, head of the sports service Igor Maretić and president of the Supervisory Board of BC Split Domagoj Maroević.

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Ivica Čavka/HKS

HKS Secretary Josip Vranković presented several ideas to present Croatia basketball during the tournament.

"There will be a lot of accompanying content, which will also depend on epidemiological measures, and as an overture to this great event, we will organize the preparations of the women's national team for the European Championship and the tournament to be played at Gripe," said Vranković.

Source: HKS

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