Bojan Bogdanovic has a reputation for playing big in big games and while he played big enough in Croatia's games vs. Greece, his 20 points represented nearly one-third of what defensively oriented Greece permitted the red-and-white on Wednesday. Croatia, who many saw as a medal contender has been disappointing, barely beating the Philippines in overtime and losing to Senegal and now Greece.
After the game, there were reports that Croatia is riven with dissension. David Pick, one of Europe's top hoops writers, tweeted...
Hearing Croatia national-team have several unhappy campers. Tension rises upon battle vs Greece.— David Pick (@IAmDPick) September 3, 2014
Hearing out of the Croatia camp that at least one member of team has called for coach Jasmin Repesa to step down.— David Pick (@IAmDPick) September 3, 2014
Repesa has been quoted in Croatia media: "My players complain about everything." They've turned on him, per source.— David Pick (@IAmDPick) September 3, 2014
There's been no indication that Bogdanovic is the "member of the team" who has called for Repesa's firing, but say knowledgeable sources, he's not all that happy with ball distribution. He's averaging 19.3 points on 14 shots a game. Things will come to a head Thursday if Croatia loses to Puerto Rico. If that happens, they will drop to 2-3 and fail to make the Round of 16.
Bogdanovic played 32 minutes vs. undefeated Greece, hitting 6-of-12 shots in his typically efficient manner, but none of his teammates could solve the Greek defense. Dario Saric, the much hyped 76er draft pick, finished with 10 and the Pacers newcomer Damjan Rudez had six points on two three's. For the World Cup, Bogdanovic is shooting 56.7 percent overall, 36 percent from three.
In the early going, Kostas Papinikolaou gave Bogdanovic some trouble but in the second half, he solved it. Papinikolaou is generally seen as Europe's top defender. The 6'9" swingman, who was signed by the Rockets last month, finished with 14 while the Bucks Giannis Antetokounmpo had only two in 12 minutes. Papanikolaou singlehandedly won the Euroleague championship in 2012 by shutting down Andrei Kirilenko late and hitting every imaginable shot in Olympiacos' comeback over CSKA Moscow.
Croatia plays Puerto Rico Thursday in Group B play. A win would give them a big boost into the second round. The team who was the Cinderella of last season's FIBA Europe tournament has disappointed in the first round of the World Cup.