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Bojan Bogdanovic, Andrea Bargnani play well in Eurobasket wins

Bojan Bogdanovic surprisingly returned to action for Croatia, scoring 13 points and grabbing 6 rebounds, as Croatia beat Macedonia while Andrea Bargnani came back with a strong, 18-point performance as Italy upset Spain in Eurobasket Tuesday.

After early reports Bogdanovic would sit against Macedonia, the 6'8" Nets swingman showed up in shootaround, started and played 23 minutes for Croatia in its  73-55 win, hitting 5-of-11 overall, but only 1-of-4 from deep. It was Bogdanovic's first minutes since suffering a concussion in a nasty fall four days ago in a win over Slovenia.  He missed Sunday's game, a loss to Greece. Croatia is now 2-1 and barring a complete breakdown will likely move on to the knockout round starting this weekend.

FIBA, unlike the NBA, has no "concussion protocol." Although there were reports that Bogdanovic suffered only a "mild" concussion, he would have no doubt been out for more a game if he had suffered the injury with the Nets.

The game had been tight until mid-way through the third quarter when Sixer draft pick Dario Saric started a 16-5 run over the final eight minutes of the quarter to take control of the game 52-42. Back-to-back three-pointers by Krunoslav Simon and Bogdanovic increased the gap to 59-46 with seven minutes left in the game to decide the contest.

Meanwhile, Bargnani scored 18 points on 8-of-13 shooting, including 1-of-3 from deep, as Italy --and the Nets big man-- rebounded from a tough loss to Turkey two days ago.  In that game, Italy's coach benched Bargnani most of the second half as he played a small lineup.

Against Spain, with Pau Gasol, Italy didn't have the luxury. Gasol got his points, 34 in all, but only one other player,  Gasol's Chicago teammate, Nikola Mirotic, broke double figures, with 13.  For Italy, it was all about their NBA contingent.  The Kings' Marco Belinelli exploded in the middle of the game, finishing with 27 and the Nuggets' Danilo Gallinari had another big game, going for 29.  Bargnani led both clubs with a +/- of +18.

After Spain reached their biggest lead of the night, 47-42 with 9:35 remaining to the end of the third buzzer, Belinelli decided to go target shooting. He instigated a blistering 15-0 run which lasted three minutes and lifted Italy to a 57-47 lead. The veteran guard had 11 points including three triples in quick succession in that spurt.The final score was 105-98, an  extraordinarily high score for a 40-minute Eurobasket contest.

"It 'was a very important match," said Bargnani. "We all played well. Everyone did his job with great confidence. That additional pressure was frustration because we played badly (vs. Turkey). But today we played at 100% and we managed to win. We are happy but we have to erase everything and think about tomorrow's game against Germany."

After the game, a clearly frustrated Mirotic ripped a Serbian flag from a fan's hands, a big no-no in international competition.

He later apologized, explaining he didn't know it was a flag, believing instead that it was just a banner.

Spain is now 1-2 while Italy is 2-1 in Group play. Italy has tough games vs. Germany Wednesday and tourney surprise Serbia Thursday. Only the top four teams in each group of five move forward.