Czech Republic overcomes Jaleen Smith to roll Croatia

By Johnny Askounis/ [email protected]

Both sides coming off comfortable wins versus Bulgaria in the Czech Republic, the hosts of the three-team tournament defeated Croatia, 95-83, to rank first Sunday night.

Vit Krejci of the Oklahoma City Thunder did not play in the game hosted in Pardubice. A couple of players based in Germany, Martin Peterka of Basketball Lowen Braunschweig and Jaromir Bohacik of Brose Bamberg led the way with 18 and 15 points, respectively.

The team coached by Damir Mulaomerovic went up by 11 points in the second quarter but settled in catchup mode after halftime. Naturalized Jaleen Smith of Alba Berlin stood out with a game-high 21 points.

Bojan Bogdanovic of the Utah Jazz scored 11 points to go along with six assists and four rebounds. Ivica Zubac of the Los Angeles Clippers had seven points and Dario Saric of the Phoenix Suns ended up with five points. Up next is Hungary in Opatija Thursday.

Croatia will be in EuroBasket’s Group C against Greece, Great Britain, Estonia, Italy, and Ukraine. Eliminated from the 2023 FIBA World Cup, the Chequered Ones will compete in the 2025 EuroBasket Pre-Qualifiers facing Poland on the road and Switzerland at home in the approaching international window.

Moving forward, Ronen Ginzburg’s side will face Germany in Hamburg next Friday. With official action around the corner, Group K of the 2023 FIBA World Cup European Qualifiers includes a visit to France and a home game versus Hungary in late August. The hosts of EuroBasket’s Group D will welcome Poland, Serbia, the Netherlands, Finland, and Israel in Prague between 2-8 September.

Photo Credit: FIBA.BASKETBALL

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