Croatian NT’s demons seems to be back.
After surviving a hard fought battle with the underdog Finland coach Vrankovic’s unit was not able to make it two in a row vs tough Macedonia squad which prevailed by 78:76.
For the second straight time Croatian defense was extremely vulnerable to opponent “high pick & roll” plays, especially when center had to pick the point guard (Bo McCaleb who finished the game with 19 points) slashing to the hoop.
Croatian big men made no real commitment to get down into the basic defensive position in order to make a better job of covering the opponent’s slasher.
That might be the reason why coach Vrankovic placed leading Croatian frontcourt player PF/C Ante Tomic on the bench for the last 7 minutes of the game.
Croatian NT leading scorer G/F Bojan Bogdanovic (19.0 ppg) had a solid game scoring 11 points on 4-8 shooting from the field in 30 minutes of action. After he had limited touches for most of the 2nd half he was forced to launch a potential game-winning shot with no time left on the shot clock.
In 35th minute of the game Croatian defensive specialist Marko Tomas fell down with a painful grimace, after a penetrative move into the crowded Macedonian paint.
Tomas has most likely suffered a potential Tournament ending hamstring injury. He has reportedly yelled over “it’s over, it’s ruptured” to the nearby group of journalists after the game.
PG Dontaye Draper (13 points, 6 boards, 6 assists) made us believe he is BACK(!!!) in the last two minutes when he calmly sink a three-pointer and couple of FTs, before committing a key turnover with half of minute to go in the game.
PF Damir Markota had his usual flashes and looked like a best forward out there before not capitalizing the last Croatian NT play with a drive to the wide open Macedonian hoop to tie the score at 78 each.
General impression is that Croatian NT has a huge historic problem of understanding that basketball is a game of SPURTS and it is not able to hold on or even to build any kind of significant lead.