2016 Rio Olympics: Croatia Now Biggest Threat To Team USA After Beating Spain
In just two days of action, the 2016 Rio Olympics has already been filled with upsets. Tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams lost their first-round doubles matchup. In the men’s tennis singles, first seed Novak Djokovic lost his first match as well. Hours after these two major upsets, the Croatian basketball team pulled off another Olympic stunner.
In the stunning Group B opening matchup, the Croatians pulled off one of international basketball’s biggest upsets by knocking down Spain, 72-70. Spain was considered as the second best international team by FIBA. Meanwhile, Croatia was ranked a far number 12. The upset has now catapulted Croatian basketball to new heights.
Croatia was down the whole game but managed to keep the game close during the last quarter. Led by Bojan Bogdanovic’s 23 huge points, the Croatians managed to secure the lead during the last few minutes of the game. The Brooklyn Nets guard seemed to abuse Spain’s lack of perimeter defense, as he drained three 3-pointers.
With the Croatians leading by two in the last seconds, Spain only needed two points to send the game to overtime. The most obvious choice for the Spaniards was to give the ball to NBA star Pau Gasol. The NBA All Star had the hot hand for Spain, finishing with 26 points and 9 rebounds. As Gasol hoisted his game-tying shot, NBA rookie Dario Saric came up big for the Croatians. The rookie provided the game’s pivotal play by successfully swatting Pau Gasol’s game-tying shot.
Spain was widely considered as the team that could unseat the Americans in Olympic basketball. Their roster features seven current NBA players and three former NBA players. The Spaniards also won the silver medal in 2008 and 2012.
The Croatians never buckled nor backed down from the mighty Spaniards. Due to their stellar outside shooting, the Croatian’s style of play bodes well in international competition. Despite being severely undersized, the Croatians also used their grit and determination to best Spain in the rebounding department.
The upset definitely bodes well for Croatia as it hopes to secure a spot in the bracket competition. All eyes are on them now after successfully knocking out Spain. The road from here will definitely get tougher for them as they still have to face Argentina, Lithuania and host-country Brazil in Group B play.
If they are able to outlast these international powerhouses just as how they outlasted Spain, the Croatians might be able to book a dance with Team USA in the 2016 Rio Olympics basketball final.
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