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Bojan Bogdanovic helps lead Croatia comeback but bid fails at the end


With 24 seconds left --14 on the shot clock-- and Croatia down by two, Bojan Bogdanovic rose from deep behind the three point line, hoping to put his team ahead of France ... and enhance his reputation as "Big Shot Bojan."

The shot was off to the left, Boris Diaw grabbed the rebound and after a round of free throws, France defeated Croatia, 69-64 in the knockout round. Croatia is now out of the World Cup and Bogdanovic, who finished with a game-high 27, is headed to Brooklyn.

Bogdanovic and 7'2" Croatian center Ante Tomic led a thrilling comeback for the Croatians, who at one point were down 16. It was Bogdanovic's deep three with a minute left, his third of the half, that got his country close.  After leading all scorers --including five other NBA players and a 2014 lottery pick-- in the first half with 11, Croatia for some reason went away from the 6'8 swingman, who was at times visibly frustrated. After the game, he complained of "black holes" in the offense. Nicolas Batum tried keeping him in check but it was more about Croatia's ball movement than Batum's defense.

Then, as the lead mounted, Bogdanovic once again became the focal point of the offense. In the fourth quarter, he scored 14 points on a variety of shots from putbacks to three's. As the game got closer, he became more and more emotional.

Bogdanovic was visibly upset after the game. "Frankly, I expected more from myself and from the team, because I know that we can do more. But again, there's no shame in losing to the European champions," Bogdanovic said referring to France's FIBA Europe championship in 2013. He also second-guessed his decision to take a long three with 24 seconds left. "Maybe I should have penetrated."

It was no surprise at the end that it was he who took the big shot. He has a long history both in the Euroleague and FIBA ball of winning games, a European Joe Johnson, but not this time.  Bogdanovic finished with 27 points on 11-of-19 shooting, including 3-of-7 from deep. He went to the line four times, half his average, making two. He also grabbed seven rebounds.  For the six games Croatia played in Spain, Bogdanovic averaged 21.2 points currently fifth in the World Cup, shot 50 percent overall -- 60.2 percent from two point range and 36 percent from deep.  He went to the line an average of 7.2 times, including a World Cup one-game high of 17.

As John Schuhmann of tweeted early in the game...