Tomic Takes Center Stage With Zagreb

03.03.2008

KK Zagreb starlet Ante Tomic could hardly have asked for a better EuroCup.

The competition has given the youngster, who turned 20 on February 17, a chance to cut his teeth in a major European tournament.

Jasmin Repesa (Coach, Croatia)
Croatia coach Jasmin Repesa could come calling this summer for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
More importantly for him, the EuroCup has allowed Zagreb to grow as a club and prove its worth in the game.

Tomic, who towers above most players at 2.17m in height, may even reach the Final Four if Zagreb beat the odds and win their quarter-final decider at Barons in Riga on Tuesday.

 "These have been my first games in Europe, so it's been good for me and my team to see where we are as a team, and to see how long we can stay in this competition," he said to Basketball World News (BWN).

Scouts of big European clubs and NBA franchises have been positively gushing about the potential of Tomic.

He has flat out dominated in some of Zagreb's games, yet he always shuns the hype.

"There are very good players playing with me," he said.

"It's a pleasure playing with them.

"We have done a great job passing through the rounds and getting to where we are."

Tomic does have a big future, though. Make that BIG FUTURE in capitals.

In the EuroCup, he is averaging 13.4 points and 7.7 rebounds per game

Zagreb coach Zeljko Pavlicevic is among his many admirers.

"He's really young, but very good and talented," Pavlicevic said to BWN.

"He can play great defense, he rebounds well and has a high shooting percentage and he's still very young.

"I think he's a big prospect and not now, but maybe one or two more seasons he can play in the NBA."

Tomic plays down the NBA talk.

"I see myself playing in Europe the next several years, maybe the NBA next," he said. "Who knows?"

One thing Tomic does know is that he will play for Croatia one day.

Croatia are consistently among the teams in the final rounds of EuroBaskets, and this summer will be in the FIBA Olympic qualifying Tournament in Athens.

Pavlicevic believes Tomic is in the reckoning for a place in this summer's team.

"Jasmin Repesa is a great (national team) coach," Pavlicevic said.

I think the national team will go to the Olympic games in Beijing, and I hope Tomic is there. He's playing as a pivot, is getting better and better and has very good (potential) for selection.
Zeljko Pavlicevic
Zagreb Coach

"I think the national team will go to the Olympic games in Beijing, and I hope Tomic is there. He's playing as a pivot, is getting better and better and has very good (potential) for selection."

Tomic admits that playing for Croatia at an Olympic Games is a dream of his, but he is not getting his hopes up about this summer.

"I don't know," Tomic said.

"We have very good players playing in my position at big European clubs, so we'll see."

For now, Pavlicevic and Tomic are focusing on Riga and their EuroCup Quarter-Final decider against Barons.

Zagreb lost the first game in Riga 67-58 but hit back to level the series last week in Croatia with an 80-74 triumph, a game in which Tomic made eight of 11 shots and finished with 16 points and eight rebounds.

"We'd like to go as far as possible," Pavlicevic said, before adding that Zagreb is a team that all of Croatia can be proud of.

"This is important because we have only national players."

Tomic says that no matter what, he's going to enjoy the experience.

"I don't feel pressure, he said. "I just enjoy the game."


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