Shocking Start to World Cup Qualifiers: Croatia Basketball Team Lose to the Netherlands

Daniela Rogulj

With a new coach and without NBA players, Croatia suffered a defeat to the Netherlands in their first qualifying match for the World Cup 2019. 

The Croatia men’s basketball team filed a defeat in the first round of the Group D qualifiers for the World Cup that will take place in China in 2019. Croatia visited the Netherlands and lost 61:68 (13:18, 18:15, 17:17, 13:18), reports on November 24, 2017. 

With a slightly weakened Croatia team where 15 of the top players were missing due to their obligations in the NBA and EuroLeague, it’s safe to say that Croatia’s World Cup qualifying is off to a rocky start.

With new Croatia coach Ivica Skelin in tow, Croatia was very nervous at the start of the meeting against the Netherlands, and it took them nearly five minutes to achieve their first point! On the other hand, the Netherlands did not show that they were much better and they failed to reach their first point in the game until after more than three and a half minutes of play. The Netherlands did manage to build an 8:0 lead, however. 

In the second quarter, the Netherlands had a tremendous shot for a three-pointer with two and a half minutes before the break, giving them an 11-point lead (33:22). By the end of the first half, Croatia was down 33:31, and at the start of the third quarter, they showed their weakness again, primarily in the attack, giving the Netherlands a chance to take advantage of the Croatia team again.

At the beginning of the last quarter of the game, it seemed that Croatia would still win the first points. With a good defensive position, Croatian players forced the Netherlands to make mistakes and take shots from unsettling positions, allowing Croatia to close the score gap to 54:50. While Croatia had several attacks, unfortunately, they were mostly unsuccessful, and the Netherlands, who in the first five and a half minutes of the fourth quarter were unbeaten, hit seven consecutive free throws for 57:54.

In the final play of the Dutch victory, hero Yannick Franke grew the lead to 62:57 with 1:46 minutes before the end of the game, and then to 64:59 during the last minute.

Croatia’s best players in the match were Željko Šakić who scored 24 points and Filip Krušlin who scored 19 points, while Yannick Franke led the Netherlands with 24 points.

In the second match of the first round of this group, Italy overcame Romania 75:70.

In the second round, Croatia will host Italy on Sunday, November 26, 2017, at KC Dražen Petrović in Zagreb. 

The top three teams from the group will advance to the second qualifying stage. 

Translated from


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