Croatian basketball team plays Italy today in the first round of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Turin.
A month before the start of 2016 Rio Olympics, the last Croatian team with a chance to travel to the games starts its qualifying tournament in Turin. On July 5, 2016, the Croatian Basketball Team will play Italy.
Croatia will have several new faces on their roster for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Turin, but also plenty of familiar ones.
Filip Kruslin, Luka Babic, Zeljko Sakic, Marko Arapovic and Darko Planinic were not in the side that finished ninth at last year’s EuroBasket but will play for new coach Aleksandar Petrovic in Italy.
Cedevita power forward/center Arapovic had a stunning display for the Croatia team that reached the Final of the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championship in Crete, Greece, and earned a spot in the All-Star Five. He was especially good in the team’s Semi-Final triumph over Turkey.
The 2.13m center Planinic, who played for former Croatia coach Velimir Perasovic at Laboral Kutxa this season and helped the club reach the Euroleague Final Four, joins a front court that does not have Ante Tomic or Luka Zoric this summer. Planinic did feature for Croatia at EuroBasket 2013.
Bojan Bogdanovic, Dario Saric, Krunoslav Simon, Mario Hezonja, Miro Bilan and Roko Leni Ukic will play big minutes as Croatia try to duplicate the feat of the team that played at the 2008 OQT in Athens and claimed one of the three places on offer for the Beijing Games.
Dario Saric has for several years been trumpeted as one of Croatia’s finest ever talents, and now coach Aleksandar Petrovic will want to get the maximum out of the versatile virtuoso whose passing skills are second to none. The 22-year-old forward can do a multitude of things to help his team win games, and he’ll have to if Croatia are going to reach Rio. Petrovic isn’t looking for Saric to pull all the strings.
Defender Krunoslav Simon is also going to have a role of increased importance this summer. But the coach does envision Saric having the ball in his hands a lot, which means trouble for opponents and a lot of excitement for spectators.
Croatia will face Tunisia and Italy in Group B at the OQT with Greece, Iran and Mexico in Group A. Only the winner of the event, which ends 9 July, will qualify for the Rio de Janeiro Games.