The Croatian basketball team will be hoping to win its first EuroBasket medal in more than 20 years when the EuroBasket 2017 gets underway next week.
The bookies have listed Croatia as dark-horses for the 40th EuroBasket which will be held from 31 August – 17 September in four countries – Finland, Israel, Romania, and Turkey.
Croatia, who finished 9th in the last EuroBasket in 2015 and last won a medal in 1995 (Bronze), go into the tournament on the back of some great form.
The team, led by Aleksandar Petrović, have turned in some solid pre-tournament performances, winning 4 out of their 5 warm-up matches against some tough opponents, including France and Slovenia.
Croatia will play their Group C matches in Romania. Their group consists of co-host Romania, Czech Republic, Spain, Montenegro, and Hungary.
With a tough group to negotiate, the Croatians will be relying on three of the NBA stars to help get them through.
A lot of hopes will rely on the in-form Dario Šarić (76ers), Bojan Bogdanović (Pacers) and Dragan Bender (Suns).
Šarić is coming off a fantastic first season in the NBA which saw him come close to winning the Rookie of the Year title. Bogdanović also had another impressive season in the NBA and was Croatia’s standout player at last summer’s Olympics.
Croatia will be missing some key players, however, including 22-year-old Orlando Magic shooting guard Mario Hezonja.
Croatia kick-off the tournament against Hungary on 1 September. The final will be played on 17 September in Turkey.
The bookies have Spain, Serbia, Greece and France as favourites for the tournament with Croatia listed as dark-horses after their form over the last year.
Roko Leni Ukic
(Photos: Croatian Basketball Federation)