Croatia Turn Back Sweden To Qualify

13 July 2013

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10. Antonio Boban (Croatia)
Antonio Boban was huge for Croatia against Sweden with 23 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists

Croatia fell 10 points behind Sweden in the third quarter and saw the Second Round at the Sportland U20 European Championship disappear in the horizon, before coming back to win 87-75 the battle for third spot in Group B and advance.

Sweden rode the hot hand of Marcus Eriksson to take a 41-37 lead at the half-time interval, as the winger went 5-for-6 from two-point range and 2-for-3 from behind the arc to collect 18 points during the first two quarters.

The Scandinavian side kicked off proceedings in the third frame with an 8-2 run capped off by a three-pointer from Tobias Borg to go up 49-39 and with their shooting percentage close to 60% at that stage, they seemed to be well in control of the situation.

Antonio Boban however thought otherwise; the Croatian forward drilled morale-boosting triples on offence while his entire team started tightening the screws on the defensive end.

Boban tied the scores at 55 from behind the three-point arc before Matej Buovac, thinking that time was running out, attempted a triple from well inside his own team's half when actually there was still seven seconds left in the third quarter.

He missed, but in the meantime he had reached under the Swedish basket, picked up his own rebound and pulled Croatia ahead with a lay-up at the buzzer, 57-55.

The basket might have been unorthodox but it highlighted Croatia's newly-found fighting attitude and in many ways it was a turning point.

The Croats started off the final frame on a 9-2 run and Boban again gave them their biggest lead in the game, 76-63, with a jumper 3:04 from the final buzzer.

Boban scored 18 of his team-high 23 points in the clutch and added six rebounds and three assists, Henrik Sirko had 16 points and five assists and Marko Ramljak chipped in with 14 points and five boards.

Sweden's loss was especially harsh on Eriksson who finished with a tournament-high 32 points, which is also a personal career-high with the national team.


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