Friday, 2 July 2021

Highlights of the Week: 5 Big Events in Croatia from June 28-July 4

June 3, 2021 - TCN's highlights of the week. A look at the events in Croatia from June 28 through the selection of TCN's reporter Ivor Kruljac.

EURO 2020 elimination and Dario Šarić in the NBA finals. Zagreb witnessing a series of arrests related to corruption of Milan Bandić's reign and explosive device planted in Split. In the midst of it all, is COVID-19 vaccination on its way to becoming obligatory and not optional? You may prefer the good news or the bad news, but here is both, as another week in Croatia comes to an end.

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© Marin Tironi / PIXSELL

Highlights of the week: Uskok arresting Zagreb entrepreneurs and associates of former mayor Milan Bandić

The Office of Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević said on Wednesday that a preliminary investigation by members of the Office of the Chief State Prosecutor and the Office for Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime (USKOK) started at the city administration offices at 6 am on Wednesday.

As TCN wrote, several people were arrested on suspicion of corruption, including the director-general of the HRT public broadcaster, Kazimir Bačić, Andrea Šulentić, and Ana Stavljenić-Rukavina. Both Šulentić and Rukavina were directors in Zagreb administration offices and close associates of former mayor Milan bandić. At the same time, details Bandić's heavy corruption (suspected and known publicly earlier) came to light.

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© Goran Stanzl / PIXSELL

Highlights of the week: Croatia eliminated from Euro 2020 after losing to Spain

Croatia and Spain met in Copenhagen on Monday for their EURO 2020 round of 16 match. It was a decent effort from Croatia, but not enough. Despite the Spain own goal in the 20th minute, the distraction as Rebić went to change his boots saw Spain even the score. The score towards the end of regular time went to 3:1 for Spain, but Croatia managed to lower to 3:2 and finally, in the added time, Pašalić scored for 3:3.

But, the euphoria was ruined for Croatia as in extra time, Morata earned Spain 4:3, and by 103rd minute, the total and final score was 5:3 for Spain. It was one of the more intense games on Euro so far as both teams show incredible spirit and persistence. 

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© Dusko Jaramaz / PIXSELL

Highlights of the week: Opposition parties against vaccination being required for job-keeping payments  

The Social Democratic Party (SDP) called on Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Thursday not to make vaccination a requirement for job-keeping payments, while the Most party said business owners were being blackmailed into vaccination.

As TCN reported, SDP leader Peđa Grbin elaborated his dissatisfaction via social networks.

"In Croatia, mandatory vaccination is possible, but the obligation is first established under the law on the protection of the population and then regulated and worked out under Immunisation Rules and the Mandatory Vaccination Programme. The obligation of vaccination can't be imposed in another way, notably not by linking support for entrepreneurs with vaccination," SDP president Grbin posted on Facebook.

"Most is against entrepreneurs, who are being forced into vaccination through blackmail, saving the government's mindless epidemic policy", stated the Most party on its official Twitter account. They added that Croatia was stuck with over 300,000 surplus vaccines because of poor government moves and communication omissions.

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© Hrvoje Jelavic / PIXSELL

Highlights of the week: Dario Šarić becomes 5th Croatian basketballer in the NBA finals

Šibenik's Dario Šarić is the 5th Croatian basketball player to reach the NBA finals! As TCN wrote, Šarić became only the fifth Croatian basketball player in the NBA league finals, joining the company of Dražen Petrović, Toni Kukoč, Žan Tabak, and Ante Žižić. Šarić plays for Phoenix Suns. They topped the Los Angeles Clippers 4-2 in the NBA Western Conference Finals. Apart from basketball, Šarić also likes to enjoy sipping coffee on Šibenik cafe terraces, as portrayed in the photo. 

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© Milan Sabic / PIXSELL

Highlights of the week: Bomb planted in Split. One person injured
In the night from Thursday to Friday, an unknown person placed an explosive device underneath a vehicle. The explosion damaged six cars, and one person required medical attention. The investigation is ongoing since Friday morning.  

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Thursday, 1 July 2021

Šibenik's Dario Šarić Becomes 5th Croatian Basketballer in the NBA Finals!

July 1, 2021 - Šibenik's Dario Šarić is the 5th Croatian basketball player to reach the NBA finals! 

Dario Šarić became only the fifth Croatian basketball player in the NBA league finals. Dražen Petrović, Toni Kukoč, Žan Tabak and Ante Žižić succeeded before him, reports Šibenik.in.

Šarić reached the finals with the Phoenix Suns, who topped the Los Angeles Clippers 4-2 in the NBA Western Conference Finals.

 

It will be the third final for the Suns, who have lost the previous two they participated in. They last played in the finals in 1993, when they were led by Charles Barkley, but lost to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in six games.

Before that, they lost to the Boston Celtics in 1976, also in six games.

The first Croatian basketball player to reach the NBA Finals was Dražen Petrović in 1990 with the Portland Trail Blazers. However, Petrović did not play next to Terry Porter and Clyde Drexler, and Portland lost to the Detroit Pistons 1-4 in the finals.

After Dražen, Jean Tabak reached the final in the Houston jersey in 1995 and won. However, Tabak didn’t have many minutes, as he was a replacement for Hakeem Olajuwon. Houston beat Orlando 4-0 in the final.

Interestingly, Tabak is the second European basketball player ever to win an NBA ring. Only a season before him, Slovak Richard Petruška won the title, also in the Houston jersey. Tabak also made it to the finals with the Indiana Pacers in 2000 when the LA Lakers defeated them.

Toni Kukoč played an important role with the Chicago Bulls, winning three consecutive championship titles (1996-1998). In the first final, the Bulls defeated Seattle and the Utah Jazz in the next two seasons. 

Ante Žižić also played in the NBA league finals with Cleveland in 2018, but the Golden State Warriors won 4-0.

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Monday, 7 June 2021

Remembering Dražen Petrović 28 Years Later

June 7, 2021 - Remembering Dražen Petrović, who died 28 years ago today. 

On this day, 28 years ago, 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. He has 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. Having achieved everything in Europe, he went to the strongest league in the world - the NBA.

Although he sat more than played for the first season due to politics inside Portland, he showed his phenomenal talent two years later with the New Jersey Nets. Not only was he the team’s best shooter in 1992 (especially at three-pointers), but also 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.

Source: HRT

 

Saturday, 8 May 2021

Best Game Ever for Bojan Bogdanović with 48 Points in Utah's Victory!

May 8, 2021 - It was the best game ever for Bojan Bogdanović, who scored 48 points against Denver on Friday night!

Jutarnji List reports that Bojan Bogdanović played the best game of his career last night. In Utah's victory against Denver (127:120), the Croatian basketball player scored 48 points (career record), and with a phenomenal 70% shooting percentage, he scored 16 out of 23 attempts. Bojan also hit 8 of 11 three-pointers and all eight free throws.

In addition, he had 8 rebounds, two assists, and a steal. Bogdanović's performance carries additional weight because, thanks to him, Utah has remained the leading team in the West and is now in a great spot for the playoffs.

Bojan overshadowed Nikola Jokić, convincingly the first candidate for MVP of the player of the season. The Serbian center also had a great evening, scoring 24 points, to which he added 13 assists and 9 rebounds. But all that was not enough to surpass Bogdanović.

Bojan has been playing the best basketball of his career in recent weeks. He has scored at least 22 points in his last five games, with a shooting percentage above 54 percent. The average in those five games is a fantastic 30.6 points, and he hit 54 of 86 attempts, which is a phenomenal 63 percent.

Utah has been playing without its best player Donovan Mitchell for some time, and Bojan's role in the team has changed with his position. The more he is with the ball, the more he gets under the basket, which obviously suits him better than the role of a classic shooter.

In the victory against Denver, Bogdanović had the best teammates in Clarkson (21 points), Gobert (14), and Niang (13).

Phoenix was also successful, beating New York 128:105. The Suns were led by Ayton with 26 points and 15 rebounds, while Dario Saric had another miserable evening. He only played five minutes in which he only managed to shoot once. 

The Lakers stumbled once again, this time in Portland (106:101), with whom they now share sixth place in the West. Seventh leads to the play-in, and the Lakers look awful.

Results:Philadelphia - New Orleans 109: 107, Chicago - Boston 121: 99, Charlotte - Orlando 122: 112, Miami - Minnesota 121: 112, Milwaukee - Houston 141: 133, Dallas - Cleveland 110: 90, Portland - LA Lakers 106: 101, Sacramento - San Antonio 104: 113, Utah - Denver 127: 120, Phoenix - New York 128: 105.

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Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Bojan Bogdanović Becomes First Croatian NBA Player to Hit 1000 Career 3-Pointers!

April 13, 2021 - Not only did he score 33 points for Utah on Monday, but Bojan Bogdanović became the first Croatian NBA player to hit 1000 career 3-pointers!

Although Croatia national team player Bojan Bogdanović achieved his best performance this season with 33 points, his Utah Jazz, which boasts the best ratio of victories and defeats in the NBA league, surprisingly lost at home to the Washington Wizards (121-125), thus breaking a series of 24 consecutive home wins. 

The Jazz was 13 points behind in the middle of the last quarter, only to get closer to -2 (119-121) at the last minute, but they failed to complete the comeback.

The most efficient at home was Donovan Mitchell with 42 points, while the Wizards were led by Bradley Beal with 34 points and Russell Westbrook with 25 goals and 14 rebounds and assists.

With this defeat, Utah's ratio dropped to 40-14, while Washington is in 12th place in the East (20-33).

Bogdanović spent 35:36 minutes on the court with 4-9 field goals, 6-9 three-pointers, and 7-8 from the free-throw line with five rebounds and one assist. However, by scoring six three-pointers, he exceeded 1000 in his NBA career and has recorded 1002 in total!

Bogdanović became the first Croat and only the 127th player with that jubilee in NBA history since the introduction of threes 42 years ago. Babo has been a Croatian record holder for a long time since he skipped Toni Kukoč, who ended his NBA career with 731 three-pointers.

Bogdanović reached this jubilee in the 516th NBA game. By comparison, Sacramento defender Buddy Hield recently scored his 1000th three-pointer in his 350th appearance, breaking Stephen Curry's record of 369 appearances.

Bojan currently needs 80 points to enter the top 100 three-pointers of all time. Tracy McGrady is currently in the 100th position. There are ten more active players between McGrady and Bogdanović, meaning he will probably need to exceed 1100 three-pointers to break into the Top 100.

At the pace of 2.4 three-pointers per game, which is how many he is averaging this season, he would need about forty more appearances to reach that venture before the end of the year, depending on the start date of next season.

At the very top is still Ray Allen with 2973 threes, but he is dangerously close to Stephen Curry, who scored ten in last night's historic game and is now at 2719 in his career.

The Utah defeat was used by the Phoenix Suns, who, with a sure 126-120 victory against the weak Houston Rockets this season, are only one and a half games behind. Croatia national team player Dario Šarić added nine points to his team's new victory (1-5 field goals, 2-3 three-pointers,1-2 free throws) with five rebounds and one steal 17:51 minutes spent on the court. 

The best in Phoenix's ranks was Jae Crowder with 26 and Devin Booker with 24 points, while Christian Wood was the best for Houston with 25 points and 15 rebounds.

Luka Šamanić also got a chance in the San Antonio Spurs away victory to Orlando Magic (120-97), scoring seven points in 7:45 minutes spent in the game (2-3 field goals, 1-1 three-pointers, 0- 1free throws). DeMar DeRozan led the Spurs with 19 points, while R.J. Hampton with 16 points was the most efficient for the Magic.

With this victory, San Antonio reached a 50/50 performance with a 26-26 ratio and is ninth in the West, while Orlando, with 17-37, is the penultimate 14th in the East.

The New York Knicks as hosts defeated the Los Angeles Lakers (111-96), who are still without LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Former Lakers player Julius Randle scored 34 points and 10 rebounds for the Knicks, while Dennis Schroeder was the most efficient for the Lakers with 21 points. 

The Knicks are now eighth in the East with a 28-27 ratio, while the Lakers are fifth in the West with a 33-21 ratio.

The Philadelphia 76ers returned to the top of the East with an away win against the Dallas Mavericks (113-95). Joel Embiid was excellent for the Sixers with 36 points, while Luka Dončić's 32 points were not enough for the Mavs.

Philadelphia is now 37-17, one win less and one game less than the Brooklyn Nets in second, who have postponed their Minnesota match against the Timberwolves due to the riots in Minneapolis, while Dallas is seventh in the West with 29-24.

Stephen Curry had a great evening, scoring 53 points in the 116-107 Golden State Warriors victory against the Denver Nuggets and became the best Warriors scorer in history, overtaking Wilt Chamberlain. Nikola Jokić's 27 points did not help the Nuggets. 

Golden State is now 26-28 and holds 10th place in the West, while Denver is 4th in the West with 34-20.

Source: HRT

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Tuesday, 2 March 2021

Croats in NBA: Bogdanović Hits 7 Threes for Third Time this Season!

March 2, 2021 - The brilliant Bojan Bogdanović hits 7 threes for the third time this season. The Croatian basketball player has never had more than two games with 7 or more made threes until this year.

Index.hr reports that Utah Jazz lost to the New Orleans Pelicans 124:129 in last night's game despite one of the best performances of this season by Croatia star Bojan Bogdanović, who finished the match with 31 points.

Utah was one step away from creating a big turnaround, coming back from a 17-point deficit to only -1, but ultimately recorded their eighth defeat of the season. Utah is still the leading team in the NBA, with a ratio of 27 wins and eight losses.

In the last ten games, Bogdanović recorded a 32 percent accuracy for three-pointers, but he opened this game with five three-pointers, and by the end, he had scored a total of seven.

For the third time this season, he scored seven three-pointers, a record achievement for the Croatian. Never before in the same season had he had more than two games with so many three-pointers. Bogdanović had 11 three-pointer attempts, as many as the entire Pelicans team who recorded as many made threes as he did.

In the third game of this season in which he scored 30 or more points, Bogdanović was 11/21 for field goals. His season record is still 32 points, which he achieved against the Dallas Mavericks in late January.

Zion Williamson was the best for the Pelicans with 26 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists, Brandon Ingram had 26 points and five assists, and Lonzo Ball had 23 points, seven rebounds, and eight assists.

Young Croatian basketballer Luka Šamanić played his best game of the season. In the San Antonio Spurs' loss to the Brooklyn Nets, James Harden reached a triple-double with 30 points, 14 rebounds, and 15 assists. Šamanić played nearly 17 minutes. He used them for eight points and five rebounds. The victory went to the Nets with a score of 124:113.

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Thursday, 21 January 2021

Croats in NBA: Ivica Zubac Records His First Double-Double of Season

January 21, 2021 - 23-year-old Ivica Zubac records his first double-double of the season in the Los Angeles Clippers' win against the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night. 

Ivica Zubac played the best game of the season in the LA Clippers' 115:96 victory against Sacramento on Wednesday. 

The Croatian basketballer played 22 and a half minutes and achieved his first double-double of the season with 11 points and 12 rebounds. He hit four of five shots in play and all three free throws and even recorded one assist and one block.

“My teammates needed me, I jumped as I know how and tried to contribute in both directions,” Zubac said after the game.

He is no longer a starter this season and comes off the bench.  Thus, even though his minutes are almost the same, it can be seen in his numbers because he is scoring 1.8 points and 2.6 rebounds less than last season.

 

"I accepted it as a challenge. I have to be ready from the first minute when I enter the game. It's different than when you're a starter, but we all have to adjust. I'm doing what I can to help the team," Zubac said modestly explaining the difference in approach between the two roles. 

Teammate Paul George also praised the Croatian Clippers' player. 

"Zu doesn't know how dominant he can be. You forget how young he is, he's still a baby... it is very rare you find bigs his size in the league today. That is one of the advantages he has. He has to own being the biggest guy on the floor."

Kawhi Leonard was the Clippers' top scorer on Wednesday with 32 points, George scored 19 with 12 assists and seven rebounds, and De’Aaron Fox led the Kings with 25 points.

Source: Index.hr

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Monday, 23 November 2020

Dario Saric Signs A Three-Year Contract Worth $27 Million with Phoenix Suns

November 23, 2020 - The latest news about Croats in the NBA, as Dario Saric signs a three-year contract worth $27 million with Phoenix. 

Croatia national basketball team member Dario Saric has agreed on a new three-year contract with the Phoenix Suns, announced Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

The Sibenik native will earn $27 million in three years with the Suns.

Saric's rookie contract, which he signed with Philadelphia in 2016, expired this year. From there, he went to Minnesota, and in July 2019, he ended up in Phoenix. He finished last season averaging 10.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game.

Saric had ups and downs with Phoenix, and his worst was in January and February this year when his minutes were reduced to below 20 per game, and thus his performance worsened (7.1 points and 4 rebounds per game). But later in the season, Saric showed his worth, averaging 18.8 points and 6.8 rebounds in March. Unfortunately, because of the coronavirus pandemic, there was a break in the NBA, which lasted until the end of July.

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Recall, the end of the season and the playoffs were held in a 'bubble' in Orlando. Phoenix won all eight games in Orlando and missed the playoffs by a hair. In those eight games, Saric had an average of 14.8 points and 7.6 rebounds per game.

The Croatian basketball player will receive $8.3 million for the first year of the contract, $9.7 million for the second, and $9.7 million for the third.

Saric started 51 of 66 games for Phoenix with averages of 10.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 35.7% three-pointers in 24.7 minutes of play. The Suns were happy with Saric and planned to bring him back. They activated his qualifying offer and turned him into a limited free agent. This meant that Dario could negotiate with other clubs, but the Suns could equalize that offer and thus keep him on the squad.

Source: HRT

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Monday, 31 August 2020

Croats in NBA: Ivica Zubac and LA Clippers Advance to Semifinal Round

August 31, 2020 - The Los Angeles Clippers have advanced to the Western Conference semifinals after winning 111:97 in Game 6 of the series against the Dallas Mavericks. Croatian Ivica Zubac and the LA Angeles Clippers celebrated in the series 4:2.

This time, Dallas was not helped by the brilliant game of Luka Doncic, who led the Mavs with 38 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists. However, Doncic couldn’t act alone against Los Angeles, led by Kawhi Leonard scoring 33 points, 14 rebounds, seven assists, and five steals.

Croatian center Ivica Zubac was also brilliant with 15 points and 11 rebounds, and he also had the best +/- in the team of +32. Namely, +/- is a statistic that shows how much a particular team has made or lost with one player on the court. The Clippers were better than the Mavs by 32 points with Zubac on the floor.

Los Angeles immediately took a 7-0 lead at the start of the game, but Dallas quickly equalized and held on until the end of the half. Moreover, the Mavs finished the first quarter leading 34:29, but the Clippers proved better in the attack for a six-point lead by the end of the half.

It should be mentioned that Doncic was also without his best teammate and the team's second-best scorer Kristaps Porzingis, who is recovering from a ruptured meniscus in his right knee. The Slovene did not start well in the second half; the Clippers scored from all sides and quickly went ahead 23 points. However, Doncic and the Mavs did not give up. The great Doncic took matters into his own hands and practically independently reduced the Clippers' lead to six points with nine and a half minutes to go.

Kawhi Leonard then made it impossible for the Mavs to come back. Kawhi dominated in one-on-one situations from the halfway line. He shot over the guards, and when the Mavs finally decided to double-team him, the Clippers lead hit double digits, and Doncic could no longer act alone. Purely for comparison, Doncic had only two teammates who scored double-digits - Tim Hardaway Jr. (10 points with 4-15 shots in play) and Dorian Finney-Smith (16 points). On the other hand, in addition to Ivica Zubac, who played a key role, Leonard can thank Paul George, who added 15 points and nine rebounds, and Reggie Jackson played a big role from the bench with 14 points and five rebounds, of which he scored 12 in the last quarter.

The Clippers await the winner of the Utah-Denver series. Doncic and Dallas are going home after a superb season. 

Source: Index.hr

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Thursday, 14 May 2020

Olympic Qualifying Tournament Dates Set for Split, NBA Stars to Help Croatia

May 14, 2020 - Croatia will have the help of NBA players in the qualifications for the Olympic Games next summer.

Gol.hr reports that the qualifying tournaments for national basketball teams to participate in the Olympic Games in Tokyo, which have been postponed for the summer of 2021, hosted by Split, Belgrade, Kaunas and Canadian Victoria, will be played from June 29 to July 4 next year. The news was decided after consultations between the World Basketball Federation (FIBA) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

At the meeting of the FIBA Executive Board in early April, changes were voted in the competition calendar, where the qualifying tournaments were scheduled from June 22 to July 4, with the representatives of the umbrella basketball organization advocating the start of the competition as late as possible, so that the national teams and players have more time to prepare.

The biggest problem for the realization of this idea was the deadline for the completion of Olympic qualifications for all sports, set by the IOC on June 29, 2021. However, the working group of the IOC Executive Board accepted the arguments put forward by FIBA representatives in talks on qualifying tournament dates and on Wednesday, it was confirmed that the date for all four tournaments would be from June 29 to July 4, according to a district letter sent to national federations on Wednesday by FIBA Secretary General Andreas Zagklis.

Recall, Croatia is one of the hosts of the tournament. Thus, in Split, the Croatia national team will face off against Brazil and Tunisia in the first round, and Russia, Germany and Mexico in the second group. The two best national teams will advance to the semifinals, and only the winning national team of each of the four tournaments will win a place among the 12 national teams that will play at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

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