Giannis Antetokounmpo’s fight needs a big test for Dario Saric

It still works without restrictions and moves with hesitation.

He’s still knocking 3s, bouncing and fighting inside.

Phoenix Suns senior Darek Saric still looks good playing for Croatia after missing the entire 2021-22 NBA season due to a rupture in the AFC Champions League in the 2021 finals.

Here are five notes from his game as Croatia plays their final Group C match at the European Basketball Championship on Thursday against Ukraine in Milan, Italy.

Numbers (through four games)

jersey number: 9.

Points per game: 10.0

2PT FGs: 7 out of 18 (38.9%)

3PT FGs: 6 out of 18 (33.3%)

FTs: 8 out of 9 (88.9%).

Rebound per match: 7.8

Darek Saric fights Niccolo Meli during the EuroBasket match on Tuesday.

Helps/Transitions: 13/13.

Double Weakness: 19 points and 12 rebounds against Estonia (W, 73-70).

loose handle: Six turnovers against Italy (L, 81-76).

pointless: 0 points (0 vs 5 of 3) vs Greece (L, 89-85).

found touch: 6 of 13 of 3 since 0 for 5 vs. Greece.

vs giannis

Saric had to check out the NBA’s best player – Giannis Antetokounmue – on occasion in Croatia’s 89-85 loss to Greece.

Coming off the bench, Sarek did not score because he only attempted one shot inside the three-point line.

Antetokounmpo did not have this problem.

He lived in paint scoring 27 points to go along with 11 rebounds and six assists.

Dario Saric defends Giannis Antiokonmo in the Croatia-Greece match at the EuroBasket match in Milan, Italy.

Possessing four offensive planks, the two-time NBA Player of the Year went through Eviak Zubak and Saric for an early throw in the first quarter.

This is a level of competition that Sarek has not seen in a year.

Later in the second quarter, Antetokoumpo, off the top of the switch, drove left on Saric and went into his patent spin right. Sarik stayed ahead, but Antetokumbu scored a goal with a jumping hook.

This was actually a good defense to prevent the Bucks All-Star from finishing with a dunk.

This toy was a great measuring stick for Sarek.

There’s no one in the league like Antetokounmpo, but the league is filled with elite athletes who will try to test Saric after he missed a year through injury.

No restrictions – and well conditional

Seeing Sarik continue to play without goals on the right knee indicates that he is back from injury.

It moves smoothly. Look faster – and faster.

I’m not talking about Usain Bolt, but Sarik is going well in the transition.

The biggest note to all of this is that he plays long minutes in EuroBasket.

Dario Saric is looking to finish off the edge against Great Britain in Saturday's EuroBasket match in Milan, Italy.

Saric averaged 21.6 minutes of age in the two seasons he played for the Sun.

His average career is 25.2.

In four EuroBasket matches, Saric averaged 27.3 minutes.

He doesn’t look exhausted and plays at a pace that should translate into running a transition with the Suns, who like to go out and move on after a defensive pause.

Dario Saric tries a throw-in in Croatia's loss to Italy in the EuroBasket match.

on the attack

Against Italian Achille Polonara, Saric quickly moved to the baseline on the right side of the ground with two drops, losing his balance a bit on contact, but finished with a banker in the paint.

He immediately realized that Polonara was out of position and made his move with intent.

Sarek was on the same side of the floor as he passed when Luke Nelson from Great Britain ran into the driveway.

Seeing a clear path, Sarek led the baseline, but Nelson came to help. Instead of standing up to get to the jump or trying to get to the edge, Saric threw a key pass to Bojan Bogdanovic for 3.

Dario Saric lines up a jump against Estonia at the EuroBasket match in Milan, Italy.

Good basket.

Saric responded with a fist perhaps after his best pass in EuroBasket.

Against Estonia, Saric cut a back door and found Ivica Zubak in the sinking lane even though the big Clippers were surrounded by defenders.

I wonder what Dirk Nowitzki thought of Dimat Sarek, as the first ballot for the future Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame was present.

Sarek helps flat the floor because he can knock down 3 seconds.

If he is able to take advantage of defenders who approach him to compete in that shot by leading a dribble and finding his teammates, Sarek becomes even more difficult to protect.

defensive stance

Nobody gets it wrong that Saric was Draymond Green on the defensive end.

The effort is there, but Sarek is giving up on the buckets.

The key for him will be positioning, something that has been hit or miss in the EuroBasket. Sarek was out of position sometimes coming from the side of the river and taking a basket.

Saric came a little late when Estonia’s Mike Calif-Costar slid in front of the screen, received the pass and dunked it.

Mike Calif Kutsar sinks into Dario Saric's loss to Croatia on Tuesday in the EuroBasket match in Milan, Italy.

It happens, but he’ll need to play a better defense.

It will be interesting to see how the thinnest Sarek defends the position. He was able to hold out even against Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid.

It looks like this would be a harder physical challenge with weight loss.

Do you have an opinion about the current position of the sun? Access to Suns Insider Duane Rankin’s dmrankin@gannett.com Or call him at 480-787-1240. Follow him on Twitter at Tweet embed.

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