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Mario Hezonja (CRO)
25/08/2014
News
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Hezonja, Babic and Lafayette clinch spots on Croatia roster

ZAGREB (FIBA Basketball World Cup) - Mario Hezonja, Luka Babic and Oliver Lafayette will be the newcomers in Croatia's national squad at the FIBA Basketball World Cup.

The three weren't in the side that finished fourth at last year's EuroBasket in Slovenia but coach Jasmin Repesa has included each on his 12-man roster that will play in Group B, in Seville, against Greece, Argentina, Puerto Rico, Senegal and the Philippines.

Mario Delas and Miro Bilan were the last two players to be cut from the preliminary squad.

The incorporation of Hezonja, 19, and 22-year-old Babic shows that Croatia are going into the tournament with one eye on the future.

Hezonja, a standout for Croatia at the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship, appeared in 20 games for Barcelona's first team in 2013-14.

Babic played in eight games for Croatia in their EuroBasket 2013 qualifying campaign.

Repesa knows the 2.01m forward well as he coaches him at Cedevita Zagreb.

Babic was excellent for Cedevita in their 81-79 triumph over Partizan Belgrade in the Semi-Finals of the Adriatic League in late April, finishing with 12 points, seven rebounds, eight assists, a couple of blocks and an assist.

Lafayette is the player who figures to get more playing time in Spain.

Tabbed months ago as Croatia's naturalized player, a role filled by former Real Madrid guard Dontaye Draper, the 1.88m Lafayette hit 37.7 percent of his attempts from long range in the Eurocup and helped Valencia win the title.

He can play shooting guard or run the point.

The Louisiana native celebrated his 30th birthday in May.

All eyes will be on forwards Bojan Bogdanovic and Damjan Rudez at the World Cup.

Both have parlayed successful European careers into moves to the NBA this summer.

Bogdanovic was an all-tournament selection at EuroBasket 2013 who has left Fenerbahce Ulker for the Brooklyn Nets while Rudez, a real spark for the side in Slovenia, has left CAI Zaragoza for the Indiana Pacers.

There are plenty of others in the Croatia squad who have experience at the highest level internationally, with Roko Ukic, Ante Tomic, Luka Zoric and Luksa Andric having represented the country at the 2010 FIBA World Championship with Bogdanovic.

Rudez played for Croatia at the 2008 Olympics.

Croatia squad for FIBA Basketball World Cup: Roko Ukic, Oliver Lafayette, Krunoslav Simon, Bojan Bogdanovic, Mario Hezonja, Luka Babic, Damjan Rudez, Dario Saric, Damir Markota, Luka Zoric, Ante Tomic and Luksa Andric.

FIBA