Dario Saric’s Olympic debut wasn’t exactly going as planned. He had just just five points on 1-of-7 shooting as Spain inbounded the ball under its own basket with 1.8 seconds left in Sunday’s game. Despite the struggles of their next anointed star player, though, the Croats had managed to take a 72-70 lead over the heavily-favored Spaniards following a late-game flurry of shot-making dramatics from both sides.
After getting free off a screen and catching a pass under the basket unencumbered, it seemed Spanish legend Pau Gasol was on the verge of sending this instant-classic game to overtime with a simple hook shot from four feet out. But Saric, a lottery pick in the 2014 draft who will make his NBA debut with the Philadelphia 76ers in 2016-17, had other plans.
Saric deflected the individual praise coming his way after clinching his Croatia’s stunning victory with a weak-side block on the future Hall of Famer. “Everybody would make that block,” he told The Vertical’s Michael Lee. “It was my situation and I did it.”
Modesty is a trait that will surely serve the 22-year-old well early in his career with the Sixers. Despite the addition of über-talented youngsters Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, Philadelphia still figures to scrape the bottom the league standings next season. Saric might not get much playing time, either; as a playmaking forward, his game is a bit redundant with Simmons’, and it goes without saying that the Sixers will be more committed to developing the latter than the former.
Either way, Saric’s future seems bright. Why? Not just due to his rare offensive skill set at 6’10, but a mindset Croatia’s coach is sure will help guide him through the rigors of the NBA.
“[Saric] has no fear of anything,” Aleksandar Petrovic said after the game.”…I’m not afraid at all, not here, not in the future with his NBA team in Philadelphia.”
(Via The Vertical)