Croatian Basketball Team Heads to France for EuroBasket Preparations, Friendly Matches

Daniela Rogulj

The Croatian basketball team heads to France!

The Croatian national basketball team traveled to Orleans, France on Monday where they will play two matches on Tuesday, August 8 (20:00) against France, and on Wednesday (20:30) against Lithuania. These games will be used for coach Aleksandar Petrović to grasp the shape of his team for Eurobasket this year, reports on August 7, 2017. 

Currently, 14 Croatian basketball players are fighting for the 12 roster spots for the European Championships. The team has been together six working days in which they have completed ten training sessions.

“We had one training less than we planned because the team worked together so brilliantly. Practically, there were no problems. It was a lot better than I expected. We worked on athletics and everything from the court to the ball. We worked on individual techniques and shooting because this is a critical parameter, and from the first evening of training we also worked on the ‘five on five’ tactics. It was not difficult because we went off much of what worked well last summer. August 17-31 will be used to improve our tactical work which needs to be just right at the European Championship,” announced coach Petrović at Zagreb Airport before heading to France. In these upcoming matches, he added, he has no expectations for the results.

“For the first game, the first 15-20 minutes of the game will be enough of an outline to see what I want, and we’ll see at the end of 40 minutes what that means in the context of the result, but in this first part, the result is of absolutely no interest to me nor will I chase it. For the four games that follow, such as the games that should be good, I chose Slovenia in Opatija because then we are presented in front of a home audience. In these first two games, I will rotate a lot more. Some may play 22-23 minutes, and everything else will be mathematically divided to get as much of the core as possible to make a good breakthrough compared to what we missed last year, which is to extend the quality rotation to a minimum of ten players,” the Croatian coach added.

A similar way of thinking is had by 19-year-old Phoenix Suns star and national team representative Dragan Bender.

“I expect that we will adapt to each other, to see how these systems work, how to attack, how to defend against others, the stronger teams. These first few matches we should look at ourselves and what we need to do. We should not worry about the result. The result will come.”

Bender is aware that in this team he will not have a leading role and he knows what is expected of him.

“As a young player, I have to bring some energy, some fire when I get into the game. I need to try to change the course of the game, shoot the open shots and play the defense.”

The friendly matches in France will help resolve any last doubts Petrović has in order to compile a list of players for France. The roster will be announced next week after the tournament in Opatija, where Croatia will host Slovenia and Ukraine.

“I’m very likely to release one player after this part because there is fierce competition for the position, and there will be 13 players at the final stage if that external player is not injured. More or less everything is known, I do not need matches and most of these things I see in training. I’m sure I will not waste too many minutes to try my ideas on the court. I’d rather use those minutes to play, and let’s say, start ten.”

Captain Roko Ukić believes that there will be no problems with the team’s play.

“There is enough that is similar to last year, and even the new players who are with us have been with us in recent years, so there are not too many unknowns. On the other hand, we are physically in the beginning, so some things do not look the way we want them to. That’s why we have to be careful, but there will not be any big problems,” Ukić said.

The Croatian competition in Cluj starts September 1 against Hungary, followed by duels with Romania, Montenegro, Spain and the Czech Republic. The first four teams from each of the four groups will be placed in the elimination part of the competition, which will be hosted by Istanbul from September 10 to 17, 2017. 

Translated from


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