Mario Hezonja, currently competing with Croatia in EuroBasket, talks to BasketNews about the changes in his national team, Giannis, Bojan Bogdanovic, and the two EuroLeague teams that tried to sign him during the summer.
A few minutes after Croatia's game against Greece for EuroBasket Group C had finished last Friday afternoon, Mario Hezonja was nowhere to be found. The former NBA forward didn't even pass through the mixed zone.
"I didn't want to. I was mad. We lost. I didn't want to speak because I was very upset. I would tell you something very rude. So, it's better that I didn't speak," Hezonja explained when BasketNews spotted him in the mixed zone after Croatia had comfortably taken down Great Britain to make it 1-1 in their group in Milan's Forum.
Croatia scored 35 points in the third quarter, the most for them in a single period in a EuroBasket game. Mario Hezonja registered his first double-double in the tournament, going for 13 points and 10 rebounds. He has now grabbed at least eight rebounds in each of his last three games in the competition after averaging 3.4 in the five previous encounters.
As the new Real Madrid player admitted, it's always better for players to speak after a win. The 27-year-old forward, who recently slammed EuroBasket referees for the way they've been officiating games, is a man who pulls no punches - on and off the court.
Some would argue that he seeks attention; others might say he's just being honest. Whatever the case, it seems that Croatia's first win in EuroBasket 2022 and Hezonja's only second with his national team, made him feel a bit more comfortable.
Not only did he take the time to talk to the media in attendance for almost 20 minutes, but he was also in a good mood. What else can a journalist ask for?
It was a pretty easy win for Croatia. Have you guys managed to regain some strength after the game against Greece?
There are no easy games in the EuroBasket. Everybody plays hard and good basketball. Against Greece, we suffered a tough loss. But we managed to overcome it because we have a lot of players. That's our main strength.
We said that we had to keep going and improving our chemistry. Against Greece in the first half, we were mixed up about what to do. It's hard, but we have to respond mentally. We had to step up defensively and stop Great Britain's offensive rebound.