Dario Saric ready to ‘do his best’ without limitations in EuroBasket

2022-08-11T12:39:39+00:00 2022-08-11T12:44:42+00:00.

Giannis Askounis

11/Aug/22 12:39


Determined to help Croatia finally bounce back, Dario Saric is adding to his long international career

By Johnny Askounis/ info@eurohoops.net

A loyal to Croatia all the way back to the U16 national team, Dario Saric is set to play in the 2022 EuroBasket.

Saric, 28, was forced to sit out the entire 2021-22 NBA season after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in Game 1 of the 2021 NBA Finals. But he is cleared for action and set up for the Chequered Ones.

“I missed the national team, it is always an honor and pride to play for Croatia,” he explained to gathered reporters during a break from practice, “The feeling of being back is fantastic. After the end of the NBA season, I trained there until mid-July. I was preparing to be as fit as possible. I feel good. It’s nice to be with these players.”

He will play in the EuroBasket without restrictions. Croatia was recently knocked out of the 2023 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers but will be in Milan to take on Greece, Great Britain, Estonia, Italy, and Ukraine in Group C of the preliminary round.

“Discussing with members of the coaching staff, we will steadily increase the workload,” he explained, “But it all depends on my presence on the court, who deserves it. Whoever works harder should play. I will do my best.”

Coming in for his fourth participation in EuroBasket, he will join forces with fellow NBA players Ivica Zubac of the Los Angeles Clippers and Bojan Bogdanovic of the Utah Jazz. From there, he intends to return to the Suns for the 2022-23 season.

“Right now, the plan is to go back to Phoenix,” Saric said referring to his contract lasting through the next season, “I talked with the coach, but you never know in the NBA. I don’t worry about that. I am trying to come back from injury and my focus is on the national team.”

Among the newest international teammates is naturalized guard Jaleen Smith. Certainly, a solid addition to the squad but Group C rivals also look strong.

“I am overjoyed that the Federation decided to add an American player,” he commented, “We have been together for only a few days and it’s impossible to expect too much from him at the moment, but we will get used to each other and it will be much better in the games.”

Official action is scheduled for early September. Ranking first through fourth would succeed in coming out of the preliminary round and advancing to the knockout stage of EuroBasket.

“Recent results and the troubling situation of recent years, it is difficult to expect something big,” suggested Saric, “We will have 12 guys ready to sacrifice and fight. Going game by game and working our way up to EuroBasket, we aim to be as good as possible. It’s currently difficult to talk about expectations.”

Tipping off friendly games, Croatia will face Bulgaria and the Czech Republic in Prague and Pardubice, respectively.