Croatia defeated Lithuania 80-75 to win the U18 European Basketball Championships in a tournament that highlighted the potential of Croatian basketball, particularly Dario Šarić. Šarić had scored 16 of the team’s 31 points as they led by nine midway through the second quarter before he picked up his third foul and had to be subbed. Lithuania fought back and took the lead early in the 3rd before their star Marius Grigonis got into foul trouble and Croatia went on a 10-0 run. Šarić would re-enter the game as Croatia held their lead and went on the lift the trophy, largely due to Dario’s efforts.
Highlights of the final
“It’s the biggest thrill of my life. The feeling is great. I just want to thank my team for their performance in the finals. This means a lot to me. We’ve practice every day together and fought for this moment and this is very big. ” –Dario Šarić
Dario Šarić rockin’ the Euro cut
If Ante Tomić, Bojan Bogdanović, and Co can’t make the NBA, Dario Šarić will be the next Croatian star. Šarić was voted tournament MVP by all 15 coaches after the final. He led the tournament with 25.6 points per game and came up huge in the final to score 39. The 6’9 forward also hauled in 10.9 rebounds per game. He has been signed by Bilbao Basket from KK Zagreb and many NBA scouts are keen on drafting the 18 year old. Draft Express projects him to be picked late in the first round of the 2013 draft.
Šarić in action
Dario hopes to join the senior side as they are in the midst of qualification for Eurobasket 2013. Croatia must finish in the top two in their group of five in order to qualify, which shouldn’t be too difficult, with Ukraine being their toughest opposition. They crushed Cyprus, one of the weakest teams in the world, in their first game by a score of 93-38, with Croatia outscoring the Cypriots 28-3 in the final quarter. Bojan Bogdanović led the team with 17 points. Ante Tomić is not with the team presumably because of an injury, but the 7’2 center will be playing for Barcelona this season as he hopes to improve his stock and get his shot in the NBA.
Bojan Bogdanović blocks Kyryl Natyazhko
Croatia played against Ukraine today in Kiev. They won 80-79 in an overtime thriller that could have been put to bed at the free throw line. The game was back and forth throughout as neither side was able to sustain the lead and Krunoslav Simon scored with 52 seconds remaining to give Croatia a two point lead. Stiven Bertt equalized for the Ukrainians and on the final possesion, Roko Ukić was fouled and went to the line with an opportunity to win the game. With just two seconds left, he choked and missed both shots to send the game to overtime. Ukraine had a two point lead with 19 seconds to go in overtime as Croatia used a timeout to set up a play. They found Bojan Bogdanović for three with 5 seconds to go and he nailed it to give Croatia the win and save Ukic from taking the blame. Bogdanovic led the team with 20 points and 5 assists, while Simon added 15, and Damir Markota had 14 points and 3 steals. Croatia’s next game is on Friday against Hungary, and will be played in Osijek.
“Ukraine is a very strong contender. I am not satisfied with the way my team played, but this victory is very important for us.” –Jasmin Repesa (Croatian coach)
Saric was capped for the senior repka against Hungary…
I love it
Dario has to come out next year, it is a very weak draft class, and he’ll have an opportunity to collect guaranteed money in the first round (top 10 most likely).
Where’s croatians around europe?
hopefully there is more to come..
Ps. love the old school Compton-style track in the video too! Easy-E just rolled a fatty up in MC heaven 🙂
This is great to see, Bravo decki!
Saric has some really great offensive skills from what I can see in the video, seems like he’s got the potential to be one of those “to big for the quicks, to quick for the bigs” type of player!
Some nice court vision, with a good looking jumper, who’s not afraid to pass the ball, and can put the rock on the floor. Such skills are highly prized in the show.
If he has any defensive ability at all (ie not a liability) the sky is the limit for him. Jumping ability is overrated, and can get you injured. Seems like he can get up enough for what he needs.
Keep working at it boys!!
Well done Zach!
I miss Croatian basketball. There hasn’t been much to talk about the past 10 years or so. Hopefully, this new generation makes history.
I know there will always be one Drazen and that Croatian basketball died with him but my God, imagine if these kids could bring Croatian basketball back to life…if only for a little.
The best thing for him would be to play in the Spanish league for at least two years. Remember this is a guy who has dominated against his peers but done nothing against men. His season this past year was nothing to brag about.
the 6 minute highlight film of saric does a good job of explaining both why he excited so many people and why so many others have doubts. he’s tall at about 6’9” but is very crafty handling and driving the ball and shows great court vision. similar kind of player to lamar odom. the big fear is that he just doesn’t show the explosive athleticism you hope for from an nab player. for the most part all his drives finish in lay-ups. there are crafty players in the league that can play that below the rim game (luis scola, perhaps even kevin love), but for the most part the game of nba big men is dominated by size, length, and athleticism. saric has the size. from what i hear the length/wing span is limited. and this video shows the athleticism in the purest sense (vertical leap) is not great. (that being said, athleticism is more than just vertical leap. he shows great agility for a guy his size, which is a different kind of athleticism)
Dario Saric and Mario Hezonja are definitely the future of Croatian basketball. They both have been leading the Cro juniors to gold medals and sweeping the MVP awards for their age groups.
Players like Bodganovic and Tomic will make great role players. The age gap between them and Saric/Hezonja is not too bad and they could play together for some time.
A lot of guys on that U18 squad (like Mavra, Brzoja, Mustapic, etc) will also become solid role players to Saric. The U19 squad last year, had some excellent role player talent as well (ie. Barac, Katic). But the key to our future is definitely Saric and Hezonja.
I watched the game on Sunday, and Saric literally took out Lithuania all on his own.
He is a pure isolation player, who’s style of play can only work in the NBA. The sooner he leaves Europe, the better.
Saric is a guaranteed top-5 pick (depending on how big a buyout that Bilbao contract he just signed is). Even if teams have to wait 2+ years for him, he’ll still go in the top 8-10. I don’t think any team in the late lotto would think twice about not drafting him. The upside is too high.
He is already 220 lbs in a wirey (yet strong) 6’10” frame. He will be a PF in the NBA, but can easily play the point forward role. He is a gifted scorer, passer, and rebounder. He’s literally a walking triple double.
The only thing that can stagnate his development is wasting too many years in Europe’s team veteran oriented leagues, or if he somehow ends up on an NBA team with immense talent at the same position and forcing him to share his minutes.
He ceiling is a Nowitzki/Kukoc hybrid. Hopefully he enters this draft and a team desperate to make him their franchise player takes him high in the draft.
P.S. It was awesome watching the Serbs have to stand (yet again) for the Croatian national anthem on that podium as they collect their bronze, lol. We really had their number this year in sports.
There really is a lot of potential for the future. Saric and Mario Hezonja are both likely to be drafted in the next couple years. Bogdanovic should be coming and Ante Tomic will likely be a very good player. If not in 2016, a 2020 medal for Croatia is certainly not out of the question
Croatian basketball has been dead for a good 2-3 years, but there is a talented generation coming up and the NT actually has a good coach this time around
The last EuroBasket campaign was a disaster, Croatia were losing to teams who don’t even know how to play basketball
This could be the generation of guys croatia has been waiting for in basketball.
This could be the generation of guys croatia has been waiting for in basketball.
Draft express will be updating their rankings because Saric will be a top five pick in the draft.