The Croatia men’s basketball team lost to Poland in their 2019 World Cup qualifier game earlier this week, leaving a big question mark on whether the team will advance to the tournament at all next year.
Although they were the big favorite to win, Croatia lost to Poland 79:74 in Gdansk earlier this week, further weakening their chances of participating in the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China. The captain of the national team and Croatia’s best player – Bojan Bogdanović – did not hide his disappointment about Croatian basketball’s latest failure, reports Gol.hr on September 19, 2018.
After the Croatia basketball team landed at Zagreb Airport following the tough Poland defeat, captain Bogdanović was the only player with the power to stand in front of the microphone for interviews.
“It’s a very difficult defeat for us, now we are far from the World Cup. While there is still hope, I think we have to fight and hope for the best, although I repeat – from this perspective, China is far away from us,” Bogdanović said to Nova TV.
Croatia is currently the last in the group with three wins and five defeats – and only the top three teams advance to the World Cup. In theory, anything is still possible. But in practice, Croatia will play all four remaining qualifiers without their best players – Bogdanović, Šarić, Zubac, Žižić and Simon. Since Croatia already lost with them against Lithuania and Poland, without them, the odds have fallen even more out of favor for Croatia.
“Every summer I hope that we can reverse something again. It has been like this for practically seven to eight years and every year, year after year, but again I hope for better Croatian basketball. Although from this perspective and especially after a new heavy defeat, it is hard to believe,” Bogdanović said.
The captain points out that he honestly believes that even without the NBA players, Croatia can get to the end, but only if they improve their approach. And what if this isn’t the case? Not advancing to the World Cup would also mean missing out on the 2020 Olympics.
“We’d practically skip two summers, which is around three years. It’s a long, long time to this European Championship and I do not know who will stay and who will not,” explained the Indiana Pacers player.
We can only hope that the year to year frustration will not halt Bogdanović’s desire to bring Croatia a big medal in a major competition. At the 2021 Eurobasket, Bogdanović will already be 33 years old, which is a disadvantage even for the standards of Croatian basketball. This could be Bojan’s final opportunity to turn his national team dreams into reality.