Continuing the coverage of Phoenix Suns representation in the 2022 FIBA EuroBasket, Croatia scored the first 7 points of their first game against Greece, but not much else went well in the first half for them. Led by new Dallas Maverick two-way guard Tyler Dorsey, who had 18 points in the half, Greece went on a 46-23 run over the rest of the first half for a 46-30 halftime lead.
As for individuals, Saric did well in one-on-one situations defending Giannis, including this drive on which Saric drew a charge, Giannis’s second foul of the half:
He struggled to put much together offensively finishing the game without scoring, but he still made a difference as a connector, including this assist out of a cut-and-kick look:
However, Bojan Bogdanovic, a reported trade target for the Suns, did not struggle offensively as he got going early and often with a dunk out of a halfcourt drive and a patient drive with a defender on his hip as a couple good examples:
Bogdanovic also showcased some isolation scoring prowess in backing down Euroleague legend Nick Calathes before hitting a tough fadeaway:
Croatia was down 17 with 5:30 left in the third, but between a couple Jaleen Smith threes and a little help from his friends, Croatia cut the lead to just 2 with 2:30 remaining in the frame; a 15-point run in just three minutes:
He had to work very hard for it, but Giannis was able to almost single-handedly extend the lead back out to 8 by the end of the quarter:
Bogdanovic kicked off the scoring in the fourth, and it was clear the final frame would be quite the show:
Smith added in a scoop-and-score to stay within striking distance:
But at the end of the game, it came down to Croatia’s will vs Giannis’s will, and any Suns fan would be able to guess whose will came out on top. Here’s the sequence of the game in its entirety, about 80 seconds of game time:
- D. Saric: 0 points (0-1 2P, 0-5 3P, no FTA), 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal in 21 minutes
- B. Bogdanovic: 19 points (7-12 2P, 1-3 3P, 2-3 FT), 7 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal in 38 min
- J. Smith: 23 points (3-6 2P, 5-7 3P, 2-2 FT), 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 1 steal in 36 min
- G. Antetokounmpo: 27 points (9-20 2P, 0-4 3P, 9-11 FT), 11 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2 blocks in 29 min
- T. Dorsey: 27 points (4-8 2P, 5-9 3P, 4-4 FT), 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 steals in 29 min
21st-ranked Croatia will try again for their first win on Saturday, less than 24 hours later, when they match up against Great Britain, who FIBA ranks as the 45th best team in the world. It’ll be a 5:15 AZ tip on ESPN+.
9th-ranked Greece will face the host nation of the group stage, Italy, who was ranked 10th prior to losing Danilo Gallinari to a torn ACL. Their game will tip at noon on ESPN+.