Behind a 18-point, 12-rebound performance from Dario Saric, Croatia secured a spot in Rio this summer with their 84-78 win over Italy in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Turin today. Saric (5/10 FGs, 1/2 3PAs) was named the MVP of the entire tournament due to plays like these for the past week:
While Saric's improved shooting stroke has been on display all season for Anadolu Efes in the Turkish Basketball League and in the tourney, it was his not-quite-NBA-ready-yet defense that caught attention in the fourth quarter today against Italy. Two key stops against Charlotte Hornets wing Marco Belinelli with less than a minute to play allowed Croatia to send the game to overtime, where they eventually prevailed. Being a passable defender is what could elevate Saric from "good player" to "star."
That time might come sooner rather than later too. Saric announced for what seems the umpteenth time that he plans to join the Sixers this season.
Dario Saric: "I'm going back home and then to the USA for the @Sixers"— Eurohoops.net (@Eurohoopsnet) July 9, 2016
Saric said he's going back to Zagreb to talk w/ his manager & his parents, then head over to the USA to see his teammates in summer league.— CroSports (@CroSports_) July 9, 2016
The reporter said, "so yes or no?" (about NBA)— CroSports (@CroSports_) July 9, 2016
Saric just yelled "Yes!" and walked off...
Saric has been definitive about his desire to play with the Sixers. Needless to say, Sixers Twitter got a little excited about the news:
"And then getting a cheesesteak with my pal Shamus." https://t.co/Pp34ZVrQdk— Clanc the Rapper (@shamus_clancy) July 9, 2016
It's lit, guys.