EuroBasket Update | Saric Helps Lead Croatia to Win in Opener

Throughout EuroBasket 2017, we’ll be providing you with news and notes from games involving Dario Saric and Furkan Korkmaz, the two members of the 76ers playing in this year’s competition.

Saric Steadying Presence in Croatian Win

Throughout much of his professional career, a familiar formula has followed Dario Saric – log major minutes, and make winning plays in big moments.

While there weren’t many style points to be had Friday in Croatia’s EuroBasket opener, Saric did what needed to be done. He scored 15 points, and came up with key assists down the stretch to help his country to a workmanlike 67-58 victory over Hungary.

Despite dominant showings in international friendly exhibitions over the past few weeks, Saric needed time to get going Friday. He was held without a point or rebound in his first 7 minutes, 23 seconds of action, and Croatia and the unranked Hungarians were tied at 20 at the end of the first quarter.

Hear ballineurope.com’s Emmet Ryan forecast the EuroBasket 2017 field on The BroadCast:

When the 2017 Rookie of the Year finalist returned to the court early in the second period, he put himself on the board swiftly, backing down his man for a tough jump hook in the lane. The basket seemed to light a spark not just for Saric, but his teammates as well. Croatia would go on to score 11 of the next 15 points, a run during which Saric also knocked down a smooth stepback jumper and corner 3-pointer.

The 23-year old capped a strong finish to opening half with a determined up-fake heavy move inside. The bucket gave him nine points – and Croatia a 39-36 advantage – at the break.

Friday’s third quarter began similarly to the first, with relatively choppy, scrappy, back-and-forth play. Saric didn’t get his first look of the second half until the two-minute mark. He unfurled a driving lay-up to even the score at 50 apiece, then deposited a jumper with 12 seconds to go to bring Croatia within one, 53-52.

While the fourth quarter would see Saric add only two more points (a pair of free throws) to his final line, the versatile forward relied on his passing prowess to leave a mark in crunch time. An over the shoulder toss to Phoenix Suns big man Dragan Bender came as part of a crucial surge, and produced a 2-pointer that gave Croatia the lead for good.

Later, with eight minutes left, Saric countered a double-team by kicking out pass to the perimeter, where Marko Tomas hit a timely insurance three.

Saric never came off the floor in Friday’s second stanza, and played the final 27 minutes, 31 seconds overall.

Korkmaz, Turkey Debut Friday Afternoon

Furkan Korkmaz, the other Sixer in this year’s EuroBasket field, will suit up Friday afternoon at 2:00 PM EST, when Turkey battles Russia. Korkmaz, who turned 20 the last week of July, averaged around 10 points per game in friendly competition.

Worth Noting:

• Bojan Bogdanovic, the 28-year old shooting guard who joined Indiana this off-season, tallied a game-high 23 points Friday.

Up Next:

• Saric and Croatia are back at it Saturday at 1:30 PM EST, facing Romania, which entered EuroBasket unranked by FIBA, and is also serving as the host nation for Group C.

** Live video streams of all EuroBasket 2017 games can be viewed the ESPN3 / WatchESPN platform, as well as http://www.livebasketball.tv.

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