Credit: Marin Sušić/HKS
Credit Marin Sušić/HKS

Jaleen Smith played his first game for the Croatian national team as a local last night. After officially playing the first two friendly matches as a guest on the roster, the ALBA Berlin guard will now have the full rights to participate in EuroBasket 2022 as a Croatian citizen.

Jaleen Smith

Jaleen  Smith
Team: ALBA Berlin
Position: PG, SG
Age: 27
Height: 193 cm
Birth place: Texas, United States of America

The passport has already been made for Smith. The Croatian Basketball Federation officials will deliver it to the player in the upcoming days.

"As far as I know, coach [Damir] Mulaomerovic called my agent in search of what he lacks, and I love basketball, so I responded in the hope of justifying the coach's trust. Why shouldn't I have that experience of playing in the EuroBasket?" Smith said to Croatian news outlet Vecernji list.

His teammates even gave Smith the nickname of Kovač, 'blacksmith' in Croatian. "It was not by chance that he was the MVP of the German final. He is a great guy and a great professional. He picked up on all our plays very quickly and was quickly accepted by his teammates," head coach Damir Mulaomerovic said.

Smith's top-scoring performance led the squad to an easy 84-64 (17-24, 20-11, 22-10, 25-19) win over Hungary last night. The new Croatian scored 19 points, making 5 three-pointers out of 8, while also grabbing 3 rebounds and dishing out 2 assists for 20 PIR.

The next friendly game for Croatia will be the fiercest test they have encountered so far. The team is set to face Slovenia at home at 20:15 CET.

Croatia is placed in Group C of EuroBasket 2022 together with Greece, Estonia, Ukraine, Great Britain, and Italy.

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