By Amy Samin
Andrija Zizic, a Croatian forward-center (34, 6’9”), is widely regarded as one of the most experienced big men in Europe. He has played for many years at the highest level of European basketball.
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv’s head coach, David Blatt, said of the signing: “We’re very happy to have Andrija joining us here in Maccabi. We were looking for a high quality, experienced player who would fit in well with the team both on and off the court. Andrija is a guy who is head and shoulders above the rest, with great post up ability and a fantastic blend of inside and outside play from the center position. I’m sure he’s going to fit right into our cohesive team.”
Team manager Nikola Vujcic added: “I’m very happy that Coach decided on Zizic. We grew up together, we played together with K.K. Split and the Croatian National Team and I know him very well. I have no doubt he is going to be a big help for us. Andrija is a team player, he isn’t looking to be a star. He can play with Tyus and of course give backup to Sofo and Tyus. He will fit into the system quickly and easily. He is a smart and experienced player and a great guy in the locker room.”
Zizic is a very effective player, smart and tough on both ends of the court, with a high level of basketball intelligence. He knows how to fit into the system and not try to force his game. He has a good hand shooting from mid-range, and is an excellent rebounder who goes hard for the offensive rebound.
His extensive resume includes five seasons in the Euroleague and four in the Eurocup. In the Euroleague (97 games) he posted career averages of 9.8 points and 4.6 rebounds. For the last four years he has played in the Eurocup, where he averaged 12.5 points and 4.7 rebounds per game, with 54% from two point range and 87% from the foul line.
Zizic holds an impressive collection of titles: four times Croatian champion (three seasons with Cibona Zagreb and one with Split), one Croatian Cup (with Cibona), and a championship and state cup in Greece (Panathinaikos).
He grew up in K.K. Split, playing there for five seasons, starting in 1998-99; for the first three seasons he was teammates with our own Nikola Vujcic. In the 2003-04 season he moved to rivals Cibona Zagreb, with whom he played his first game in the Euroleague. In January of 2005 he took a big step up the ladder when he signed with Barcelona through the end of the season.
In 2005-06 Zizic moved on to Greece, where he signed with Olympiacos, playing for two years alongside Sofo Schortsanitis and, during the second season, under the coaching of Pini Gershon. In January 2006 Zizic and Olympiacos came to Nokia Arena, where he had the best game of his career, with 41 points and an index ranking of 23 (including 17 of 17 from the free throw line), 9 rebounds, and took 10 fouls. Incidentally, Maccabi won that game 101-95.
After two years in Piraeus, Zizic went over to arch-rivals Panathinaikos for the 2007-08 season and won the Greek double (Cup and Championship) under the direction of the legendary ?eljko Obradovi?.
He started the 2008-09 season with Turkish team Galatasaray, but in January of that season he went to Zaragoza in Spain. He returned to Croatia in the summer of 2009, signing with Cedevita Zagreb. In 2010-11 he joined French team Villeurbanne, but returned to Cedevita before the end of the season.
In the summer of 2011 Zizic came full circle, returning to Cibona Zagreb and playing in the Croatian, Adriatic (also against Maccabi) and Eurocup leagues for two seasons.
He started the current season in Cibona, where in the Eurocup he posted solid averages of 14.5 points and 5.9 rebounds. This past January the team’s financial difficulties led him to leave, signing with BZ Astana of Kazakhstan, where he was briefly the teammate of Pat Calathes, who previously had played for Maccabi Haifa. He played five games with Astana in the VTB League.
Zizic was a long-standing member of the Croatian National Youth Teams, and played in two European Championships with the senior team.
By the way, Andrija’s younger brother Antonio Zizic, 17, is also considered a great talent. Last September, during the preseason, he was one of the youth players who came to Israel from Croatia and practiced with Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv.