In case you missed it – and you probably did because they did absolutely nothing at this year’s EuroBasket – Croatian basketball laid a big disappointing goose egg.
Should we be surprised? The answer is actually: YES!
This is probably the most stacked all-around Croatian basketball team since Petrović and Kukoč played together in the 90s. The core of the current team all get ample playing time in the NBA. Bojan Bogdanović was a pivotal part of the Utah Jazz the past two seasons and Ivica Zubac is hitting the prime of his career with the Clippers at 25 years old. Before Dario Šarić tore his ACL (he’s back to 100% now) in the 2021 NBA Finals, he was a solid contributor off the bench for Phoenix. Even former NBA player and 2015 #5 overall pick, Mario Hezonja, can ball on his best day. He’s currently playing for Real Madrid.
But instead of finishing 1st or 2nd in a relatively easy opening group, Croatia went 3-2 on their way to a 3rd place finish. Croatia lost 89-85 against Giannis Antetokounmpo and Greece. Giannis is the only real NBA power Greece possesses. Croatia easily defeated Great Britain by 21 points – as they should – before beating Estonia by a narrow margin of three points. Croatia then lost to hosts Italy, who have no NBA power on their team, before beating Ukraine by five points in the final group stage match.
Bogdanović and the gang set up a Round of 16 clash with Finland that you think they would win. Instead, they let new Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen go for 43 points in a 94-86 Finland victory over the Croatians. Croatia made Markkanen look like Michael Jordan at EuroBasket and couldn’t even make it to the quarterfinals in a tournament that doesn’t even have Team USA in it.
With three NBA players on the squad, you simply have to do better. You just have to.
Where Croatian basketball goes from here – after missing the 2020 Tokyo Olympics – I just don’t know. But it can’t get much worse, right?
Not just about a PG. We defend terribly and don’t know how to finish games. These issues were masked by Petrovic but have always been present in some measure. I have no confidence unless we bring in a tough minded American coach.
Actually Ante Rebić could have been a great point guard with his explosive speed.
RIP Dražen Petrović i HKS.
We cannot produce a lead guard.
They all play nogomet or worse Rukamet.
Rukamet probably takes all of our point guard talent.
It is mind blowing on what a bum Hezonja is?!
Post Svircic interview he fell off a cliff.
What exactly went down with that Hezonja interview.
Don’t be afraid to tell us, Hezonja won’t mind.
We have our Luka Modrić and our vater polo Euro Championship!!
I’ll take a #10 in nogomet over a #1 in Košarku any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
I am just unclear how a Košarkaš like Kukoč from 30 years ago be more athletic than a Šarić?
Who trains these kids?
Credit card hops?
They need lower leg power to explode over the rim.
Some these dudes are 6’10” and can barely dunk with no one around, much less with someone in the paint.
Random American point guard is shameful as well.
I wonder if Hezonja can learn something from being at Real Madrid?
Can Hrvatska develop the next Luka Modric of basketball or even the next Luka Doncic?
They had Petrovic, but he died while in his prime.
His death cost us more than an extra medal or two at the next couple of tournaments.
It feels like it pretty much killed the sport in Croatia altogether.
Soul champ is our biggest hoops guy on here I’ve been paying attention soul brotha.
I think he agrees that slotting in ante rebic as our point guard would solve a lot of our issues 😉
“Croatia made Markkanen look like Michael Jordan”
That’s a stupid comment. It’s basketball, Markkanen is a good NBA player and his role with Finland is to take the most shots and score, which is Bogdanovic’s role with Croatia and I’m sure Bogdanovic has had similar games with Croatia against decent competition.
When has any Croatian dropped 40 points in checkers in the last decade? Bogdanovic definitely has the ability. Saric could easily average 20 points. Zu with 10/15 but they don’t. So what’s the problem here?
I’d also say that basketball in Croatia always plays behind soccer so it would be interesting to see basketball numbers there with kids vs soccer- it’s the same here in Canada- basketball is gaining but you can’t beat the passion for hockey- and then financially in Croatia it’s a whole lot worse – disposal income does not exist and kids probably get a choice of one sport and that is soccer
Basketball in Croatia is behind every sport lol.
Shaq was even wondering where all the courts were in Croatia when he first visited. You’ll see random handball courts, and waterpolo nets floating in the Jadransko, before you’ll ever see a basketball net there.
So true- that waterpolo is damn big there- who knew?
Maminjo, for sake of conversation, I’m not talking about kids growing up now or even 10 years ago. That’s a separate conversation. We have three guys who currently play in the NBA and they lose to Italy and Finland. They barely squeak by Estonia. That’s a problem. Why can’t these guys gel. Has to be something behind the scenes affecting chemistry. Has to be.
I think the bigger elephant in the room (when looking at that Eurobasket knockout round image) is…
What the hell happened to World Basketball in general?
Poland beats Dončić and Slovenia?
Germany beats Giannis and the Greeks?
Italy beats MVP Jokić and the Serbs?
I’d be way more pissed if I were Slovenian, Serb or Greek right now.
This has been happening for a while now, with random teams knocking out quality regulars.
Plus, I hate the fact that each team is allowed to naturalize a player…so everyone has a random afro-american dude on their team who’s never even been in the country they’re playing for? Lol
I liked FIBA World Basketball tournaments when it was a handful of powerhouse teams (USA, Russia, Croatia, Lithuania, Yugo/Serb, France, Spain, Argentina) that was correlated with how many NBA players they had.
Now, it’s just a random shitshow.
Imagine if instead of the NBA playoffs being best of 7 it was one and done, you’d see similar results/upsets as you’re now seeing in world basketball. The NCAA Tournament is one and done but since it’s a 64 team field and top programs recruit the best players, the talent gap between the high seeds and low seeds is typically much greater than a 1 to 8 seed in the NBA playoffs. I think that’s what’s happened in world basketball, national teams that used to be the equivalent of the 100th ranked team in college are now the equivalent of the 25th +/- best team in the NBA.
I’d make a comment about the “naturalized player” but this site is run by people who are more loyal to the PC religion than they are their own kind, so they censor the speech of their own kind. <There's a NAME for people like this.
Our Basketball died in 1993 with the death of Drazen Petrovic. Since that tragic day our Basketball has gone downhill big time. Did not see our loss to Italy but watched all the other matches. We struggled to beat Estonia and Ukraine, even against Great Britain it was close at half time. The irony was that we wanted to play Finland in the round of 16 and as we know we lost to them.
I don’t watch a lot of Basketball and only watch when Croatia play, but Finnish player Markkanen ( 43 points) was unbelievable and he destroyed us single handedly. Watching the match and this guy play I did jokingly say to others watching with me is this guy Michael Jordan or what ? He was that good or probably our players were so bad that he looked like Michael Jordan.
Imagine Luka Modric dying in a car accident at age 28 when he first transferred to Real Madrid (as he was taking his game to the next level).
Think of what impact that would have to Croatian football… and that pretty much sums up what the loss was for Croatian basketball.
Petro was something else, no way if Modric died in a car accident would it have impacted the football team like Petro’s death did basketball, you just gotta read your other comments to come to the conclusion that you’re wrong here. We missed out on Petro coaching and instilling his competitive spirit into the generation after his, teaching them how to get the best out of themselves and having his career back up what he’s teaching. Biggest tragedy in world sport history was Petro’s death.