Bojan Bogdanovic scored six points in overtime, including two crucial free throws with 41 seconds left to help Croatia beat a resilient Philippines team led by Andray Blatche, 81-78 in the opening game of the FIBA World Cup. Bogdanovic finished with 26 points and Blatche two more in a game that that wasn't supposed to be close.
Bogdanovic made all four of his free throws and was 1-of-2 in the overtime session, scoring all but four of his team's 10 points. For the game, he was 9-of-18, 7-of-14 from two and 2-of-4 from three, hitting a variety of shots. He also grabbed four rebounds and handed out an assist, but had six turnovers.
After a horrid start, hitting only one of his first ten shots, Blatche led the Philippines turnaround, shooting 9-of-14 the rest of the way, including 3-of-4 from three. It was a classic DrayLive performance with Blatche showing off his various skills, grabbing 12 boards --but also turning the ball over eight times.
In the first quarter, with both Bogdanovic and Dario Saric, the 76ers draft pick, dominating, and Blatche playing poorly, Croatia raced out to a double-digit lead and it looked like the oddsmakers were right, that it would be an easy win for the medal contenders. But Blatche got untracked and the Philippines started hitting three's and the Gilas even went ahead late in the fourth. Croatia tied the game and the first game of the tournament went into overtime, much to the dismay of the mostly Filipino crowd, many of whom had come from Madrid by bus.
Croatia had hoped for an easy game, with a morning game vs. Argentina Sunday, but instead wound up playing its starters bigger minutes than expected. Bogdanovic played 39 minutes to lead Croatia. Blatche played 41 for the Philippines.
In the other game of local interest, Ukraine, coached by Mike Fratello and Nets assistant Joe Wolf, easily beat the Dominican Republic, 72-62.