Mind games work: Brazil stun home crowd in Croatia to win Group B
SPLIT (Croatia) - Brazilian head coach Aleksandar Petrovic said that he is going to hide his hands in the first matchup with Croatia, expecting to see the hosts in the Final on Sunday. His team still managed to win, 94-67, booking a trip to the Semi-Finals and silencing 1,500 Croatian fans in Spaladium Arena on Wednesday in the process.
Petrovic started the game without Marcelinho Huertas and Vitor Benite, his one-two punch in the backcourt, and center Lucas Mariano did not play at all. But Brazil were amazing through all their rotations, building a double-digit lead early on and never looking back again. The game even ended with the home fans shouting Aco Petrovic's name and giving Brazilian players a standing ovation!
Turning point: Brazil were up 45-34 at the break, and the first two plays of the second half erased any thoughts of a Croatian comeback. Bruno Caboclo erased an Ante Zizic dunk attempt, while Rafael Hettsheimeir knocked down a triple at the other end to take the air out of the building. It was a one-way street the rest of the way, with the lead ballooning to +30 a minute before the end.
Game hero: Sure, Hettsheimeir had 20 points in 21 minutes as a starter, but this one was all about Bruno Caboclo. The forward was flying all over the place, collecting 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting with 8 rebounds also to his name.
Stats don't lie: The number to show from this game is zero. That's the amount of minutes and seconds Croatia were in front of Brazil in this one. All relevant stat categories were on Brazil's side, perhaps the most impressive one being the fact that they held Bojan Bogdanovic to 2 first-half points.
Bottom line: Brazil are group winners at 2-0 in Split, while Croatia have their work cut out for them. They will face Tunisia on Thursday, with the winner getting the second ticket to the Semi-Finals. From the other side of the draw, the only thing we know for sure is that Mexico will advance, but both Germany and Russia could win the group, finish second or get eliminated.