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CRO - Hezonja, Lafayette and Saric in the mix for Spain 2014
ZAGREB (FIBA Basketball World Cup) - All 12 players who impressed for Croatia at EuroBasket 2013 in Slovenia are on the 24-man preliminary roster for the FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Croatia, who will play in Group B against Argentina, Greece, Puerto Rico, Senegal and the Philippines after finishing fourth at last year's tournament, have also included Barcelona's rising star, 18-year-old Mario Hezonja, while making it official that American guard Oliver Lafayette is to compete for the one naturalized spot national teams are allowed to have.
Hezonja recently spoke to FIBA.com about this summer, saying: "I'm ready. It's going to be a great experience to play with those guys."
However, he has battled injuries all season.
Among the players who competed under coach Jasmin Repesa and helped Croatia go on an eight-game winning streak at the EuroBasket en route to the Semi-Finals is 20-year-old Dario Saric.
On Thursday night, the 2.07m forward was selected 12th overall in the NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic but then had his rights traded to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Saric has only just signed a contract to play for recently-appointed coach Dusan Ivkovic at Efes Pilsen in Turkey but is looking forward to eventually joining a Sixers team that has a big tradition.
"Yeah, I know everything about the Sixers - Moses Malone, Charles Barkley, Allen Iverson, and I love the team," he said after being selected by the team.
"I know it’s like the fifth (largest) town in the USA, and I know everything about Philadelphia…
"They are like the (fastest) team in the NBA right now. I really want to come here in Philadelphia to put my game on that team after two years."
Numerous Croatians have played in the NBA and also made a big impact on international basketball.
Croatia preliminary squad for FIBA Basketball World Cup: Roko Leni Ukic, Dontaye Draper, Oliver Lafayette, Rok Stipcevic, Ante Delas, Krunoslav Simon, Bojan Bogdanovic, Mario Hezonja, Fran Pilepic, Ivan Ramljak, Luka Babic, Damjan Rudez, Dario Saric, Mario Delas, Damir Markota, Tomislav Zubcic, Leon Radosevic, Miro Bilan, Darko Planinic, Ante Tomic, Luka Zoric, Luksa Andric, Stanko Barac and Marko Ramljak.