Croatia Basketball Loses to Lithuania, Complicates Road to World Cup

Daniela Rogulj

Croatia basketball can no longer choose their destiny for advancing to the World Cup next year, but rather depend on the results of other teams in the final two qualification rounds. 

In the 10th round of the qualification Group J for the World Cup in China next year, the Croatia basketball team lost to Lithuania 62:79 in Vilnius, reducing the odds of placing in the competition at all, reports on December 2, 2018. 

Lithuania opened the match with a series of 6:0, but Croatia returned with six consecutive points for 6:6. Lithuania then led with 13:6, and at 13:9, they hit a series of 10 for an incredible 23:9 advantage. At the end of the first quarter, Lithuania was up by 15 points (26:11).

In the second quarter, Lithuania relaxed and Croatia was able to come back from behind with just 4 points (43:39), and at the opening third quarter, Croatia equalized at 43:43. Unfortunately, the game continued disastrously, and Lithuania ended up +18 (67:49) by the end of the quarter. In the last quarter, Lithuania celebrated with a big 79:62 result.

For their ninth win in ten games, Lithuania was led by Renaldas Seibutis who scored 15 points and five rebounds, Martynas Echodas with 12 points and ten rebounds, and Rokas Giedraitis with 10 points. Miro Bilan was best for Croatia, scoring 12 points and three rebounds, followed by Tomislav Zubčić with 11 points and five rebounds, and Jakov Mustapić with 10 points and six rebounds.

Lithuania leads the group, followed by Italy in second with 7:2, and Poland, Croatia’s biggest competitor for China, with 5:4. Hungary stands at 5:5, while Croatia is currently at 4:6, and the Netherlands is the last with 3:7

On Thursday, Croatia beat Hungary in Osijek even though they were plagued with injuries, and hoped to win in Lithuania to return to third place in the group and thus increase their chances for the World Cup. Unfortunately, Dražen Anzulović’s severe defeat in Vilnius once again moved the team even further away from China.

In the other 10th round games of Group J, Poland beat Italy 94:78 in Gdansk, which is yet another result pushing Croatia away from China.

After the loss to Lithuania and Poland’s win against Italy, Croatia can no longer choose their destiny but will depend on other results of others in the final two rounds. 

Lithuania also secured the placement in the World Cup before the game, while Italy already set the pace for second place. The remaining teams in the group will fight for third place. 

For the time being, Poland is currently the best-ranked team for third with 6-4, Hungary has 5-5, Croatia now stands at 4-6, and the Netherlands is in last with 3-7. Only the top three teams in the group advance to the World Cup. 

To read more about Croatia basketball, follow TCN’s dedicated page here


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