Andrea Bargnani and Bojan Bogdanovic scored 15 points apiece as they helped Italy and Croatia win “friendly” -exhibition– games in preparation for Eurobasket next month. Bargnani’s Italy easily beat Latvia (without Kristaps Porzingis) while Bogdanovic’s Croatia beat Germany (with Dirk Nowitzki) in overtime. Bargnani, who started on the bench, shot 5-of-8 overall and hit his only three-pointer of the night in the 82-63 blowout of Latvia in the Tbilisi tournament in the Republic of Georgia. The Italians two other NBA players, Danilo Gallinari (22) and Marco Belinelli (13) also hit double figures. Italy plays Estonia Saturday.
It was reported that the former Barcelona youngster had a meeting with Croatia coach Velimir Perasovic to notify of his intentions this summer according to a tweet from sports writer Igor Marinovic. But Perasovic has dismissed those reports and stated that all his NBA-based players will report for international duty on August 1.
But Dragan Bender never suited up for the Croatians, who were considered one of the gold-medal contenders along with the U.S., Turkey, Greece and Serbia. News broke on the first day of the tournament that Bender was out, due to the fact that he’s signed to an exclusive endorsement contract with adidas, and the Croatian federation was taking a hard-line stance on its players wearing Jordans or Nikes, in order not to jeopardize its own lucrative contract with Jordan Brand. Neither side budged, and so Bender watched Croatia’s first two games from the stands, flanked by his Italian agent, Maurizio Balducci, and then flew home on Monday. NBA scouts—not to mention media and Croatian fans—were dismayed. A different scout told SI, “It just boggles my mind that the Croatian federation, which should be trying to win tournaments, did something that prevented its best prospect from playing.”
The Toronto Raptors announced Tuesday they have acquired guard Luke Ridnour and cash considerations from the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for the draft rights to forward Tomislav Zubcic. Ridnour, 6-foot-2, 175 pounds, has averaged 9.3 points, 4.5 assists, 1.0 steals and 26.1 minutes in 830 career games (493 starts). He has played with Seattle (2003-08), Milwaukee (2008-10, 2013-14), Minnesota (2010-13), Charlotte (2013-14) and Orlando (2014-15).