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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