The Croatia basketball team kicked off the first day of the NBA Summer League against the Detroit Pistons. While Croatia held their own for a mostly equal match and even managed to lead by 8 points, it was Detroit to win in the end, reports HKS on July 6, 2019.
Three minutes until the end of the third quarter, coach Veljko Mršić’s squad still held their own at 55:55, but the Detroit club slowly pushed their way ahead in the last quarter as Croatia grew weaker to achieve a final score of 96:80.
In any case, Croatia showed their potential and played a solid game with a strong defense. Croatia’s next game is already on July 7 at 22:00 Croatia time against the Brooklyn Nets.
The best Croatia player was Željko Šakić with 17 points and 5 rebounds. Luka Babić scored 10 points with 4 assists, Roko Badžim 9 (with 2 rebounds and 2 assists), and Marjan Čakarun and Domagoj Vuković each secured 8 points.
The most famous Detroit player and former Cedevita player Will Cherry received 13 minutes on the court, though he did not score a single point and only managed one steal.
“It was really great, given that this was our first game here and that this league is really good. I personally thought it would be worse, but I think the first half was great. In the second half, we fell a bit, but that’s the glamour and charm of all this,” Željko Šakić said immediately after the end of the game.
Coach Veljko Mršić was also pleased: “The first game after 15 days of training is behind us. In the first half, we seemed strong. Two minutes until the end of the fourth quarter, it was still equal, but after that, it was hard to maintain their better physical abilities and athleticism. However, since this was the first match and I noticed a few things during this game, I think the score is satisfactory. This is a school tour where we will see which players can respond to this game and hope that everyone will profit and in the future be better players.”
Recall the NBA Summer League features all 30 NBA teams along with the national teams of Croatia and China. The preliminary round runs from July 5-11, after which the top eight teams play in a single-elimination tournament from July 13-15. The remaining 24 teams will play a consolation game on July 12 or 13. All games are held in Las Vegas, Nevada.
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