Dario Saric may be getting all the headlines associated with Croatia's Olympic run, but Bojan Bogdanovic is getting all the points. The Nets shooting guard scored an Olympics-high 33 points Thursday as Croatia beat Brazil, 80-76.
Bogdanovic topped Carmelo Anthony‘s 31 points against Australia Wednesday by shooting 10-of-16 from the field, including 3-of-6 on 3-pointers and 10-of-11 from the line. Averaging 24.7 points per contest, Bogdanovic ranks second to Australia’s Patty Mills (25.7) in points per game thus far..
The win puts Croatia at 2-1 and makes it a prohibitive favorite to move on to the medal round. As NBC Sports explains...
Croatia (2-1) will be tied with the loser of Argentina-Lithuania (streaming here at 9:30 p.m. Eastern) for second in the group at the end of the day. Brazil (1-2) will be tied with the winner of Spain-Nigeria (streaming here at 6 p.m. Eastern) winner for fourth.
The top four teams advance, meaning at least one of Argentina, Lithuania, Croatia, Brazil and Spain won’t. Though Croatia and Brazil have both beaten Spain, the Spaniards entered Rio a medal favorite.
Croatia wasn't even expected to make the Olympics. In the Olympic Qualifying Tournament, Italy or Greece was seen as the favorite, but with Bogdanovic and Saric upping their games, Croatia beat both and got a ticket to Rio. (Croatia's basketball federation didn't even book the team's flight until the last minute, leadng to a 32-hour flight in coach from Zagreb, Croatia's capital to Cordoba, Argentina, scene of a pre-Olympic tournament.)
Saric, who will play for the 76ers this season, finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and three assists. For the second time in three games, Saric hit Bogdanovic with a full-length pass after a block.
For the Brazilians, Marcelo Huertas, the Lakers point guard, finished with 10 points and nine assists, Leandro Barbosa of the Suns has 11 points and four assists while Nene Hilario disappointed with five points and two rebounds.
Argentina and Luis Scola play Lithuania at 9:30 p.m. ET