Basketball World Cup 2025: Croatia Surprises at Smith Debut in Poland 69:72 (31:21)

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(All Photos by FIBA)



Needed a lot of time to get rid of the weight on his shoulders: Jaleen Smith


During the first half coach Damir Mulaomerović did not seem to have found the right strategy. Poland dominated on both ends of the court, and Croatia led only in the category of turnovers. The guest team had lost the ball a total of 9 times in the first 20 minutes and it was no surprise that Poland was up by ten points when the half-time buzzer rang.


simon.jpg Helped the team with his routine: Krunoslav Simon 


All eyes were on the new Croat Jaleen Smith and it seemed like the pressure was too much for the American. His stats looked terrible with only 1 field goal (a three-pointer) hitting its target in 8 attempts. Then again he collected 8 rebounds, which is an extremely high number for a guard. Smith was not the only one who had problems finding the basket. Together with Gnjidić, Simon, Šarić and Bogdanović the Croats around Smith had made only 5 of 28 three-point attempts in the first 38 minutes. 


poland.jpg Poland dominated the first half of the game

The croatian team was carried by Zubac, Šarić, Bogdanović and the routine of Simon. Prkačin who had shown a great game against Finland did not play, just like Mavra and Perković. 



Coach Damir Mulaomerović

Luckily, after a good performance from the entire team that lead to a close final,  Hezonja made his last 2 three-point attempts in crunch time before Smith added 2 successful free throws to give Croatia a 67:72 lead with 12 seconds remaining. Poland was able to get the last two points but could not turn the game around. 



The much needed victory for Croatia is celebrated by the entire bench


Polish coach Igor Milicic’s best man, who also was top-scorer of the day, was Mateusz Ponitka with 26 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists. Mulaomerović on the other side had three players in double digits: Zubac who had a double- double with 19 points and 10 rebounds, Bogdanović with 16 points (8 rebounds) and Hezonja with 10 points. 



Last hope for Croatian Basketball: American “Firefighter” Jaleen Smith with confidence before the game


Result by quarters: Q1:15-11 Q2:16-10 Q3:16-28 Q4:22-23

Find the boxscore with detailed statistics here




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