#FIBAOQT: Canada beat Croatia in first OQT warm-up

(Image from FIBA)
*This first appeared on FIBA.com.

Canada claimed a 91-80 triumph over Croatia on Monday night in a friendly between sides warming up for FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments (OQTs).

Getting ready for the OQT in Manila, the Canadians' performance left coach Jay Triano impressed.

"I thought we played well for our first game," Triano said. "It was nice to get a win against a very good team on their court. We need to use this time in Europe to get better."

Canada reached the Semi-Finals at last year's FIBA Americas Championship in Mexico City to clinch a spot in the OQT field and then won the Third-Place Game against the host nation to reach the podium.

They will face Senegal and Turkey in Group A of the OQT. With a top-two finish, they would take on a Group B side, either France, New Zealand or the Philippines, in a Semi-Final. The Semi-Final winners will ultimately meet in a do-or-die game for Olympic qualification.

It's unclear what the final make-up of their squad will be. Fans back home are hoping that Tristan Thompson will link up with the team and play at the OQT.

Thompson helped the Cleveland Cavaliers make history on Sunday when they beat the Golden State Warriors to win the NBA title. The Cavs are the first team to overcome a 3-1 deficit in a series and win the championship.

As for Croatia, coach Aco Petrovic fully expects the team to start playing better in the coming days. It will help that Dario Saric and Krunoslav Simon are joining the team today and should feature when Croatia play Canada again on Thursday.

"It's expected that in three days, we'd be a little better prepared," Petrovic said. "No matter what we have in that game, I have to do four training sessions with the greatest emphasis on getting Simon and Saric incorporated to the team. It is at this moment an absolute priority while looking at the profile of the team and knowing what awaits us in Turin."

At their OQT, Croatia will be play in Group B against Italy and Tunisia while in Group A there will be Greece, Iran and Mexico. Only the winner of the OQT will clinch a place in the men's Olympic basketball tournament.

Petrovic had hoped to have American Justin Hamilton in the team but the big man is putting all of his focus on playing in the NBA after a strong campaign with Valencia Basket in Spain. Leon Radosevic has also pulled out of the squad with an injury picked up while playing in the Bundesliga post-season with Bamberg.

In the game against Canada, Bojan Bogdanovic led Croatia with 24 points.




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