In the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament, it was the play of Bojan Bogdanovic that secured Croatia an opportunity to play in Rio. Bogdanovic scored about a third of his country's points in that tournament, and as Croatia began their Olympic play on Sunday against Spain, the Brooklyn Net looked just as strong.
Bogdanovic scored a team-high 23 points on 8-of-15 shooting, including 3-of-8 from long range and 4-of-5 from the free throw line. The sharp shooter added three rebounds, two assists, and one block in his 36 minutes. Just as he did in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament, Bogdanovic was responsible for about one-third of Croatia's points.
The guard's stellar play was very important as Croatia outscored silver medal favorite Spain 25-16 in the fourth quarter, and ended up winning 72-70 in what was one of the big early upsets in the 2016 Olympic Games.
The other Brooklyn Net participating in this year's Olympics is Luis Scola, who's Argentina team cruised by Nigeria 94-66 on Sunday. Scola had 18 points on 7-for-12 shooting to go with nine rebounds, three assists, and one steal in 24 minutes. The power forward also showed his ability to shoot from deep as he went 1-for-2 from the three point line, while also making three of four free throw attempts.
The two Nets players will be in action against each other Tuesday night as Croatia takes on Argentina at 9:30 p.m.
Matt Citak, SNY.tv
Before Brooklyn let go of Joe Johnson last season, Bogdanovic averaged 10.4 points in almost 26 minutes per game. In the final 25 games without Johnson, the Croatian's numbers increased to 15.2 points in 28 minutes per game, while shooting 42 percent from the three point line. As more minutes at the shooting guard position opened up, Bogdanovic's game improved drastically. This is great news for Brooklyn as it seems like the team has big plans for Bogdanovic this season, as evidenced by assistant coach Chris Fleming traveling to Croatia to speak to the guard leading up to the qualifying tournament.
Throughout the Olympic Qualifying Tournament and the first game of Olympic play, Bogdanovic has played like an absolute stud. He has been shooting and moving around the court with a level of confidence and swagger that we have yet to see on a consistent basis during his tenure in Brooklyn. With an offseason to prepare as the team's starting shooting guard, along with the motivation of playing in a contract year, both Bogdanovic and the Nets are hoping he can mirror these Olympic performances when it comes time for the NBA season.
As for Scola, the Argentinian brings more to the Nets than merely a veteran presence. Although he averaged only 8.7 points and 4.7 rebounds for the Raptors last season, Scola showed some flashes of his old self, securing three double-doubles and having eight games of 20 or more points. Throughout the season, Scola saw his minutes decrease from 24.0 in November to 14.5 in April. Yet as he showed in yesterday's win over Nigeria, the power forward still has some life in his legs. While Scola will certainly act as a leader to the younger players in the Nets locker room, don't be surprised to see more performances like yesterday's during this upcoming NBA season.