Croatia had a do-or-die game Thursday vs. Puerto Rico. Win and advance to the Round of 16. Lose and they were on a plane back to Zagreb, the most disappointing team in the first round. Bojan Bogdanovic made sure the Croatians were headed to Madrid. In three quarters of play, he scored 23 points, 14 of them on free throws as he drove the lane and banged in the post, leading Croatia to an easy 103-82 win.
Croatia will now play France in the knockout round on Saturday, starting at noon local time.
Prior to the game, there were rumors of dissent on the Croatian sidelines, with one rumor suggesting a starter --not Bogdanovic-- would refuse to play if coach Jasmin Repesa wasn't fired. Repesa had benched his starters Tuesday vs. Senegal and the young African team upset Croatia.
Bogdanovic played his typically efficient, if unassuming, game. Early on, he found the seams on backdoor cuts and hit open shots. By halftime, he had scored 11 points. Then in the third, he simply took over, scoring 12 of Croatia's 31 points, going to the line repeatedly. At one point, Puerto Rico double-teamed him.
With Croatia ahead by 27 at the end of the third, Repesa rested the Nets rookie for the rest of the game. For the first round, Bogdanovic averaged 20 points, shooting 58.8 percent from two and 34.5 percent from three.