Bojan Bogdanovic, still Croatia's leading scorer despite the rise of Mario Hezonja and Dario Saric, scored 26 points in the first round of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Turin, Italy, but it wasn't enough as the home team beat Croatia, 67-60.
Italy, with Marco Belinelli, Danilo Gallinari and ex-Net Andrea Bargnani, had been favored in the game, but Croatia had the game tied at the half and went ahead early in the third, only to have it slip away late.
Bogdanovic was 9-of-23, but only 2-of-9 from deep. He grabbed six boards as well.
Croatia was ahead off early in the third, but Italy reeled off nine unanswered points, capped off by a Daniel Hackett three-pointer that saw them pull away 51-43. They headed into the fourth quarter with a 54-47 advantage. The Croats got within three on a number of occasions in the final frame but a scoring drought that lasted more than three minutes down the stretch ultimately cost them dearly.
Belinelli, playing with a face mask, led Italy with 19. Bargnani scored eight points and grabbed four rebounds. Hre's the highlights...
Croatia must win vs. Tunisia on Wednesday or their hopes of returning to the Olympics for the first time since 2008 will end.