FIBA World Cup Qualifiers: Croatia Defeats Netherlands to Secure First Win, Is There Still Hope?

Daniela Rogulj

In a game without the chance for a single mistake, the Croatia men’s basketball team achieved their first win in the FIBA World Cup qualifiers in Zadar. 

The Croatia men’s basketball team reached their first victory in the World Cup qualifiers during the fourth round, defeating the Netherlands in Zadar 82:78, reports on February 26, 2018. Željko Šakić with 22 points and Filip Krušlin with 17 points led Croatia, while Thomas van der Mars led the Netherlands with 20.

Croatia defeated the Netherlands with a chance to advance to the second round of qualifications, though another goal was not achieved, which was a +7 point difference compared to the first match against the Netherlands in November.

Unlike the game against Romania three days ago, Croatia’s basketball players had an excellent opening to the match against the Netherlands, and in the first five minutes, they scored more three-pointers than in the entire game on Friday where they only achieved 2 of 26 three-pointer attempts. With two long-distance shots by Šakić and Krušlin, Croatia took the lead 11:4, and had the most significant advantage of +15 (22:7) near the end of the first quarter. Until then, Croatia scored an impressive 5 of 6 attempted three-pointers. 

During the second quarter, Croatia took a lead of between 10 and 14 points and was up 44:34. Unfortunately, in the third quarter, things began to unravel – both on the attack and on the defensive side of the game. After several missed shots, Croatia took action from the center, but continued attempts by Buvo, Planinić and Žorić never made their way to the basket. On the other hand, the Dutch established a few three-pointers and quick points from the counterattack bringing the advantage to just 60:59 in the last 10 minutes.

At the start of the last quarter, the Netherlands came to the lead with 62:59 and many were worried Croatia would repeat the same situation against Romania which eventually resulted in defeat. However, this time the Croatian response was far better, with a three-pointer by Štić, free throws by Krušlin, and points from Perić to bring the score to 66:62 and control of the result. The Netherlands threatened last when Franke hit three free throws for 70:69 five minutes before the end, but the score was quickly turned around with the help of Šakić and Uljarević for 76:69.

40 seconds before the end, Croatia led by 10 (82:72), and it seemed they would win by more than seven compared to the first round in November in the Netherlands. Unfortunately, Van der Mars scored for 82:77, there were two missed free throws from Šakić, Franke hit one of two shots for 82:78 and Krušlin missed a three-pointer which would have given Croatia the +7 advantage. 

In the second match of this group on Monday, Italy defeated Romania 101:50 (35:12, 12:13, 29:11, 25:14), thus securing first place with a 4-0 win and loss ratio. Romania is in second with 2-2, and the Netherlands and Croatia both have 1-3.

Croatia will play the remaining two matches in the group during the summer. On June 28th, Croatia will play in Italy, and on July 1st, the team will head to Romania. It is now crystal clear that Croatia must win at least one of those two games to advance to the second round in which the three top-ranked teams will continue. 

Translated from


Subscribe to our newsletter

the fields marked with * are required
Email: *
First name:
Last name:
Gender: Male Female
Please don't insert text in the box below!

Leave a Comment