Pacers forward Bojan Bogdanovic and Croatia suffered their first loss of EuroBasket 2017 on Tuesday, falling to defending European champions Spain, 79-73. Through four games, Croatia is now 3-1, putting them in second place in Group C behind the Spaniards (4-0).
Bogdanovic, who entered the day as the tournament’s fourth-leading scorer at 22.3 points per game, struggled to find any sort of rhythm early and was scoreless at halftime. He heated up, however, in the third quarter, converting a cutting layup off a dish from Dario Saric and then drilling three 3-pointers to help Croatia take the lead.
The Croatians led by as many as four points in the second half and had a one-point lead with just over four minutes to play. Spain, however, reeled off six unanswered points to move back in front and looked on their way to victory before technical fouls were called on both forward Pau Gasol and coach Sergio Scariolo with 1:32 remaining.
Under FIBA rules, Croatia got four free throws following the two technical fouls and Saric converted them all to make it a one-point game.
Sergio Rodriguez knocked down a jumper with 38 seconds remaining that pushed Spain’s lead back to 70-67, but Bogdanovic answered nine seconds laters with a driving basket on the other end.
The Croatians then elected to foul Ricky Rubio, who made both foul shots before another layup from Bogdanovic made it 73-72 with 22 seconds remaining.
Fernando San Emeterio converted two free throws for Spain to make it a three-point game once again. On the other end, Bogdanovic again drove to the basket, but this time his attempt was swatted away by Juancho Hernangomez, effectively sealing the victory for Spain.
Bogdanovic finished with 15 points, three rebounds, and one assist, going 6-for-16 from the field and 3-for-9 from 3-point range. Saric led Croatia with 18 points, 13 rebounds, and five assists.
Rubio led Spain with 13 points and four assists. San Emeterio and Rodriguez each added 12 points, while Gasol chipped in 11 points, 10 boards, and three assists.
Croatia has one more group game against the Czech Republic on Thursday morning. Bogdanovic and his countrymen have already clinched a spot in the 16-team knockout round bracket, which begins on Sept. 9.
Despite Tuesday’s loss, Croatia is in good position to finish in second place in Group C, which would mean a matchup with the third-place team from Group D (likely Latvia, Serbia, or Russia) in the Round of 16.
Croatia EuroBasket 2017 Game Schedule
Friday, Sept. 1 – Croatia 67, Hungary 58 | Recap » (Cluj-Napoca, Romania)
Saturday, Sept. 2 – Croatia 74, Romania 58 | Recap » (Cluj-Napoca, Romania)
Monday, Sept. 4 – Croatia 76, Montenegro 72 | Recap » (Cluj-Napoca, Romania)
Tuesday, Sept. 5 – Croatia 73, Spain 79 Cluj-Napoca, Romania)
Thursday, Sept. 7 – Croatia vs. Czech Republic | 7:30 AM ET (Cluj-Napoca, Romania)
Sept. 9-17 – Knockout Round Bracket (Istanbul, Turkey)