Both the Croatian and Serbian National Teams kicked off group play in Eurbasket with wins yesterday.
Current Phoenix Suns forward Dragan Bender (19 years old) played just 15 minutes and scored 2 points in Croatia’s win over Hungary. His team’s leading scorers were Bojan Bogdanovic and Dario Saric.
Bender’s role may fluctuate the whole tournament, and as the youngest player on the team he’s not asked to be a primary focus on offense or defense. Especially in Europe, it’s the veterans that get the nods during tournament play.
However, Bender DID play the whole 4th quarter and despite his paltry stats he was a +7 on the day. He’s been praised for his basketball IQ, defensive awareness and offensive decision making in keeping the ball moving.
For those of you who like to twist the screws of angst as often as possible, a former first round pick by the Suns showed why he was such a good prospect all these years.
Bogdan Bogadnovic, now 25 years old, scored big and led Serbia to their opening win. There are still questions on his quickness at the NBA level, but all the other skills are there.
Drafted in 2014, the Suns waited and waited for him to come over but finally traded his rights last June as part of the swap to acquire Marquese Chriss. Bogdanovic signed this summer to play for the Kings for more than $7 million per season. I personally can’t wait to see how it pans out for him.