The Croatian national basketball team is able to convince so far during the EuroBasket 2022 group stage in Milano. Yesterday coach Mulaomerović’s team was able to come close to a sensation (85:89) against the highly favored team from Greece and today they made sure to put Great Britain in its place (86:65) to maintain all chances to reach the next round from group C.
After the missed qualification for the World Cup next year, the Croatian Basketball Association decided to naturalize American Guard Jaleen Smith and so far that decision seems to bring the desired results for the team. The checkered team beat Poland and Switzerland during the pre-qualifier for WorldCup 2025 and now remains on track in Milano.
Yesterday, newly added Smith had to take on the big favorites from Greece around former NBA champion and MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. The US-American eventually ended up being both the most effective player for Croatia and also top scorer with 23 points. Greek coach Dimitrios Itoudis on the other side was able to count on the “Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo not only to deliver 27 points during the entire game, but also to have two sensational blocks in the last 37 seconds of the game to stop two of Croatia’s last three offenses and with that any hope for a big sensation. The game that seemed already lost at half- time 30:46 went to Greece 85:89 despite a strong second half by Croatia (55:43).
Today against Great Britain the Croatian team playing in red showed slight fatigue during the first half but kept the upper hand (37:31) against highly motivated opponents who had lost their opener against Ukraine 90:61. However the third quarter was a display of what the Croats around their leader and NBA player Bogdanović are capable of. A very convincing defense led to easy baskets up front and then eventually broke the Britons spirit when back-to-back alley-oops, fast-break dunks and three-pointers started. Dominic Mavra ended the 35-9 run with a triple point shot to beat the buzzer at the end of the quarter.
The game ended 86:85 with plenty of time for the Croatian bench players to soak in the large tournament atmosphere on the court. Unfortunately Karlo Matković had to leave the game injured at the beginning of the 4th quarter. Sarić, Žubac, Bogdanović all shared the top scores with 15 points each. Miles Hesson scored 18 points for Great Britain.
Next games (all in Milan) for Croatia will be:
Estonia on Monday Sep. 5 at 14:15
Italy on Tuesday Sep. 6 at 21:00
Ukraine on Thursday Sep. 8 at 14:15
All games will be televised live on HRT 2 and FIBA’s YouTube channel
Results by quarters:
Croatia vs Greece 16:24, 14:22, 32:24, 23:19
Croatia vs Great Britain 20:17, 17:14, 35:9, 14:25