Make no mistake about it – this is supposed to be an easy win for Croatia. They’re the #21 in the world coming off a near-upset over #9 Greece and now facing #45 Great Britain. This is supposed to be a win.
Despite a first half that said otherwise, Croatia did in fact make it look easy, closing the game with an 86-65 win, their first of the group stage of the tournament.
Phoenix Suns combo big Dario Saric, coming off a scoreless outing against Greece, showed up early and often, trying to make sure he didn’t end up with a goose egg once again:
And he showed some patented tough bounce passes:
Saric’s running mate – and possible future Suns teammate – Bojan Bogdanovic was right there with him, leading Croatia in scoring for a second straight game, albeit in a three-way tie this time.
He added in some solid defense:
And even gave us a preview of what’s to come in a Saric-Bogdanovic pairing with this crosscourt pass from Saric for a Bogdanovic three.
Even in the face of the two-man success Croatia was having, Great Britain found themselves in striking distance at the half, down just 37-31. Britain was staying alive thanks to an offensive rebounding effort; at one point they led the column 8-1 before finishing at 10-5.
In the third quarter alone, however, Croatia nearly doubled that scoring output while really tightening up defensively, winning the third 35-9 and essentially putting the game out of reach there.
Croatia used the fourth quarter to get their players some extra rest after playing two games in under 30 hours; no Croatian played more than 27 minutes after Bogdanovic led the team with 38 minutes in the first game.
- D. Saric: 15 points (3-6 2P, 2-5 3P, 3-3 FT), 8 rebounds, 5 assists, and 1 block in 27 minutes
- B. Bogdanovic: 15 points (3-5 2P, 3-6 3P, no FTA), 2 rebounds, and 1 assist in 18 min
- I. Zubac: 15 points (6-6 2P, 3-5 FT), 6 rebounds, and 3 blocks in 18 min
- M. Hesson: 18 points (6-13 2P, 1-4 3P, 3-4 FT), 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal in 30 min
Croatia has 48th-ranked Estonia in their sights, led by University of Arizona standout Kerr Kriisa, who had 20 points and 6 assists in their first game against Italy. That game will tip Monday morning at 5:15 a.m. AZ time on ESPN+.
Great Britain has a date with Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Greek squad immediately following Croatia-Estonia at 8:00 a.m. on Monday, also on ESPN+.