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Croatian Basketball Star to Miss World Champs After Shoe Dispute

Dragan Bender

Dragan Bender

The corporate side of sport has reared its ugly head over the weekend and cost one of Croatia’s biggest basketball talents a chance to play in the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championships which started in Greece this weekend…

Seven-foot Star forward Dragan Bender, who plays for Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel, will return home today and miss the tournament after a sponsors dispute. Bender, who has a contract with Adidas, refused to play in the Jordan Brand shoes, who sponsor the Croatian team.

Both sides stood their ground with the Croatian Basketball Federation saying that if he can’t play in the Jordan Brand shoes then he will not be able to take the court. Bender did not back down and said he would only wear Adidas because of the stiff penalties he would face if he played in any other branded shoes.

“The fact is that Bender refused to play in the Jordan Brand shoes but our Federation has a contract with Jordan and everybody has to play in Jordan Brand. He refused to do that but he didn’t say anything before coming here. That’s the problem. I talked with my Secretary General and other people who made the decision because we have a very serious contract with Jordan. If he cannot play in Jordan Brand, he cannot play. That’s it, ” Vladimr Vanjak, Croatia’s head of delegation at the World Champs, told fiba.com.

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Bender was expected to be one of the stars of the tournament. Croatia, who comfortably beat Egypt in their opening match yesterday, will play out the 2015 U19 Worlds with 11 players.

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