Ante Zizic on joining Maccabi: My decision was easy, I felt more welcome here

2020-09-19T17:52:42+00:00 2020-09-19T17:52:42+00:00.

Stefan Djordjevic

19/Sep/20 17:52

Ante Zizic talked about his decision to leave the NBA, why he chose Maccabi Tel Aviv, does Deni Avdija have what it takes as well as how it will be to potentially play without fan support

By Stefan Djordjevic/

Ante Zizic spent three years in the NBA with the Cleveland Cavaliers but has decided to return back in Europe and join Maccabi Tel Aviv – the team with which his older brother Andrija Zizic won EuroLeague in 2014.

Nostalgia and memories of rooting for his brother and Maccabi certainly played a role but there was more to the decision to pick Israel over Spain and Real Madrid.

“The whole situation with the virus, with the league, was pretty tough because I was a free agent. My season finished in March so I had time to decide. In the end, my decision was easy. I spoke with the coach, I spoke with Nikola (Vujcic, GM) and it was simple to make the decision,” Ante said, for the Israeli media outlet ONE and added. “Every day I get thousands of messages from fans and they have a very big part in it. As you said, I felt more welcome here.”

Fans played a big part in his decision but in the end he might not be able to experience the full atmosphere due to the COVID-19 protocols and the uncertainty the virus brings.

“Maccabi has an amazing audience, good fans, one of the best in all of Europe. Obviously it’s easier to play when you have their support. You straight up play better when you have thousands of people in the stands pushing you. It will be different. I do not know what it will be like because I have never played without an audience in the stands, just maybe friendly games. We are professionals and our motivation should be high in every game.”

He also spoke about his stint in the NBA, noting that he has without a doubt improved a lot, had a great experience but ultimately wanted to play more and compete for titles. Hence, the return.

“Three years in the NBA were great for me. In the first year, I played with six All-Stars. In the second year, I played a lot but we were in some kind of a rebuilding process so I didn’t play a lot in my third year. I didn’t want to do that. I want to play, I want to compete, I want to fight for championships. In the NBA, it’s tough. If you’re not a playoff team, you’re not fighting for anything except for a higher pick.”

Zizic came to Maccabi from the NBA but Deni Avdija is preparing to take the opposite route. The 23-year-old Croatian center thinks Avdija’s got what it takes and wishes him a team that will give the young prospect a proper chance.

“I never played against him but I saw some of his games and he is a good player with a very good physique, he has everything for the NBA. I think the most important thing for him is to be chosen by a team that wants to give him a chance and support him, that’s the most important thing for him because he has everything else.”

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