Croatia Basketball Falls to Poland: Will They Qualify for 2019 World Cup?

Daniela Rogulj

The Croatia men’s basketball team lost to Poland in the 2019 World Cup qualifiers, placing their fate in the World Cup next year into serious question. 

Croatia lost to Poland in 2019 World Cup qualifiers on Monday, and although Croatia was a big favorite to win, they failed to get the victory in Gdańsk, losing 79:74. This new defeat has most likely left Croatia without the 2019 World Cup in China next year, reports on September 17, 2018. 

After eight rounds, Croatia is the last in the group J with 11 points, while Poland jumped to the third place with this victory. In front of Croatia are four more qualifiers, though they will be without NBA players (Bogdanović, Šarić, Zubac and Žižić) and without their only Euroleague player – Kruno Simon. How Croatia will manage to fight against Hungary, Lithuania and Poland next will be very interesting to see.

In yet another dull and faulty match, as was the case in Osijek against Lithuania, Croatia collected another defeat even though they boasted four NBA players who were the best part of the team. Bogdanović finished with 22 points and five assists, Dario Šarić scored 17 points with seven rebounds and six lost balls, Ante Žižić had 13 points and eight rebounds, and Zubac and Stipčević scored eight points.

Poland was victorious with the help of their star player Adam Waczynski, who scored 21 points and was 4/6 for three-pointers. Adam Hrycaniuk scored 14 points with nine rebounds, and Mateusz Ponitka and A. J. Slaughter each had 12 points. 

Croatia had another game where they struggled in the attack and displayed poor defensive play. Though, with a pile of mistakes on both sides, Croatia did manage to have a five-point advantage at the half.

The worst news of the game came when Bojan Bogdanović’s was injured four minutes before the end of the second quarter when Ponitka unintentionally stepped on his leg. However, Bogdanović managed to play a good part of the rest of the game. 

While the second half looked more hopeful for Croatia, they could not manage to rise above their five-point advantage, and towards the end of the game, the team became even more lethargic. 

On the other hand, Waczynski dominated Croatia’s basket, bringing Poland to an eight-point advantage (75:67). The three-pointer by A J. Slaughter in the 37th minute didn’t help. 

Though most hope was lost, in just 70 seconds, Croatia managed to build seven points for 74:75. 

At the start of the last minute, Bogdanović opened a shot for Stipčević, but was unsuccessful. 13 seconds before the end, Bogdanović made a non-technical foul and Slaughter hit both free throws for 77:74. Only three seconds before the end, Šarić’s mistake ultimately gave Poland the victory and pushed Croatia further away from China.

In the remaining four games, Croatia will be without NBA players, and with such a composition, depending on the other results, they will need at least three wins to compete for the third place in the qualifiers.

In the 9th round, scheduled for November 29, Croatia will host Hungary, Italy will host Lithuania, and the Netherlands will visit Poland.


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