Puerto Rico started attacking aggressively, jumping to a 2-9 lead, forcing coach Veljko Mršić to call a time-out. Croatia successfully completed several well-executed plays and took the lead at 11-9. There were a few more draws in the first half, but Croatia held the reins firmly in their hands, and did not allow Puerto Rico to threaten the result seriously in the remaining three quarters, reports HKS.
Croatia held the biggest advantage when they were up by 23 points at 52:29 and 54:31 in the third quarter, both times thanks to Ante Toni Žižić. By the end of the game, Puerto Rico managed to get close to a single-digit difference.
Bojan Bogdanović also officially played the first game in this cycle of preparations, scoring 12 points with 5 assists. Ante Žižić was perfectly accurate (7/7 for field goals and 4/4 free throws) with which he scored 18 points and 7 rebounds. Captain Roko Leni Ukić also hit double digits with 11 points and Miro Bilan with 10 points.
“This match was closed to the public; we tried some things to see what it would look like. This is our second game in 24 hours. The first 25 minutes were excellent, we were up by 23 points, but we gave up in the last 15 minutes. We allowed Puerto Rico a lot of attacking jumps, as well as some points from the counterattack. The defense was at a nice level, we received 66 points, and we also created quite good situations offensively. Just like yesterday, our shots were weaker. However, 20-25 shots were made well, and when the tournament comes, and we are fresh, they will go in. All in all, we are satisfied. That preparation period was not easy because we got a new player every preparation game, and we had to start from scratch again, have the training, and show actions. There was a little loss of rhythm and intensity in training. However, now we have five days left until the first game of the tournament; it’s time to get well, play, do our best, and try to qualify for the Olympic Games,” said Veljko Mršić, the national team coach.
The Olympic qualifying tournament in Split is held from June 29 to July 4, and Spaladium Arena is partially open to the public. Tickets can be purchased at ulaznice.hr and the Spaladium Arena box office.
“I would really like the hall to be filled as much as possible because we really need it. It is different to play in front of a full hall, and that is why I invite all basketball fans to come, support us and together, in synergy, win a place in the Olympic Games and enjoy those four days of top basketball.”
To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.
To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE.