Croatia Basketball Learns Opponents for Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Split

Daniela Rogulj

November 27, 2019 –  The Croatia basketball team, led by coach Veljko Mrsic, will face Tunisia and Brazil in the Split qualifying tournament for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. The groups were decided in a draw held at the FIBA headquarters in Geneva on Wednesday. 

The second group, which is also played in Split, includes the national teams of Germany, Russia, and Mexico. Croatia will likely crossover with Germany or Russia. The first two teams from each group will go to the semifinals, with only the overall winner of the tournament going to the Olympics.

The qualifiers will be played in four different tournaments, each with six participants. The Olympic qualifying basketball tournaments will be played from June 23 to 28 next year, with host cities of Split, Belgrade, Kaunas, and Victoria in Canada.

Although he led the national team last summer on three continents (in Croatia, the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas and the Borislav Stankovic Tournament in China), coach Veljko Mrsic will sit on the bench for the first time for an official FIBA match next February in the new qualifying round for the European Championships in 2021. However, the biggest national team exam will be next June. Coach Veljko Mrsic shares his take on the draw. 

“First of all, we have to understand the tournament in Split as a great prize and a great opportunity to promote basketball in our country, and then as an opportunity to qualify for the Olympic Games,” said coach Mrsic.

“The group is tough… after all, all groups are tough and there are great teams in each. The possibility of Germany is a bit aggravating, but there it is. It is difficult and too early to talk about the chances at this point because we do not know how the other teams will arrive, and we cannot be sure about our own team. What is important is that we are a team. A team that our fans can be proud of and that we can be proud of. That is the basic goal that we must work on, and all that will be one big reward.”

What does Mrsic expect in Split and from Split?

“This is a solid tournament, the strongest played on Croatian ground since EuroBasket 1989 in Zagreb and I am sure that our audience will recognize this and that the Split stands will be full and that we will really have a lot of support and wind at our backs from our audience.”

Eight national teams have already qualified for the Tokyo Olympics next year. They are Spain, Argentina, France, Australia, the USA, Iran, Nigeria, and the host Japan.

Source: HKS

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