The dust has mostly settled in Ankara, with Croatia and Macedonia the final two terms standing. Though Croatia should prevail in this one and the “World Cup of Basketball” isn’t really much more than a lot of friendly matches bound together loosely and packaged as a tournament, the game tonight could prove to be crucial to these team’s Eurobasket dreams in September.
Team Croatia has certainly steamrolled its way through this particular tournament, dispatching Latvia and Germany with ease after overcoming Turkey in the first game in a 82-77 that was slightly more lopsided than the final score shows. Roko Leni Ukic seems set to take the tournament MVP honors, leading all contenders in both points (16.0) and assists (7.0) per game.
Even in a bruising losing battle, however, Macedonia might yet win the Eurobasket war in a couple of weeks. Those guys should consider today’s game a key educational experience.
Croatia and Macedonia are entrenched together in Group A for Eurobasket 2009 along with Israel and mighty Greece. The teams will face off again on September 9 in a game that will represent the third and final match in the first round for both – if things go as expected, i.e. Greece takes three of three, this game would determine the group’s second and third seeds for the subsequent September 11 games.
Croatia v. Macedonia will play for the Efes Pilsen World Cup Championship today at 4pm CET. Latvia takes on Germany in the consolation game starting at 1.45pm CET.
Team Croatia’s roster includes Zoran Planinic (CSKA Moscow); Marko Popovic (Unics Kazan); Roko-Leni Ukic (Milwaukee Bucks); Davor Kus (Cibona Zagreb); Marin Rozic (Cibona Zagreb); Marko Tomas (Real Madrid); Nikola Prkacin (Cibona Zagreb); Krešimir Loncar (Unics Kazan); Marko Banic (I.Bilbao Basket); Sandro Nicevic (Benetton Treviso); Nikola Vujcic (Olimpiacos); Mario Kasun (Efes Pilsen); Ante Tomic (KK Zagreb); Mario Stojic (Vive Menorca); and Damir Rancic (KK Zadar).
The Macedonia roster consists of Vrbica Stefanov (Vive Menorca); Jane Petrovski (Grifoni); Dimitar Mirakovski (Feni Industri); Riste Stefanov (Lukoil Acedemic); Aleksandar Dimitrovski (Rabotnicki); Darko Sokolov (MZT Skopje); Vojdan Stojanovski (Amak SP); Dime Tasovski (Rabotnicki); Pero Blazevski (MZT Skopje); Pero Antic (Lokomotiv Rostov); Jeremiah Massey (Real Madrid); Todor Gecevski (KK Zadar); Predrag Samardgiski (FMP Zeleznik); Bojan Trajkovski (Rabotnicki); Damjan Stojanovski (Amak SP); and Kiril Nikolovski (Vardar).