Ante Tomic wins Euroleague player of the month for February, gives interview with Javier Gancedo

Jamie McDonald

Utah Jazz former draft pick, and current asset, Ante Tomic was awarded the Euroleague Basketball's bwin MVP for February (Player of the Month). He gave an interview with Javier Gancedo to talk about the month, this season, and what else is happening with FC Barcelona this season.

Let's cut to the chase. I'm still crazy for Ante Tomic. He's a 7'2 bigman with smooth moves around the rim and has been in many battles as a professional. He has played in countless international tournaments, and unlike the majority of our players, is a veteran with his best days still ahead of him. The 27 year old center was drafted in the second round by the Jazz in 2008, and has been playing professional ball since he was a teen. Over his career he's won a gold medal for Croatia in the 2009 Mediterranean games; was the MVP of the Adriatic league in 2009; has been a Spanish league All-Star twice (2011, 2013); All-Euroleague 1st team once (2013); and has won rings in Spain back-to-back (2012, 2013). Tomic clearly has had great success as a winner in Europe and has enjoyed a lot of processional success and satisfaction. Unfortunately, it's unlikely that he's going to be part of our Utah Jazz in the near future -- he's basically the Chris Bosh of a dynasty in progress over there.

The former Zagreb (Croatia, Adriatic) and Real Madrid (Spain, ACB) player, now in his second season with FC Barca Regal (Spain, ACB), just won Player of the Month for the month of February. He won the award last year in February too. He's a winner. And he talked with Javier Gancedo for Euroleague.net.

You can read the full interview (in English) here. But here are some excerpts:

Hello Ante, congratulations on becoming the bwin MVP for February for a second year in a row. What do you like so much about this month?

"Well, February is always special for me because it is my birthday. Not only because of that, but it is also a very important part of the season and I know I have to give my best in crucial games. This award means a lot to me because I know I helped my team get really close to the playoffs."

You averaged 5.6 points in the first five Top 16 games. Then you improved to 22 points per game and beat your Euroleague scoring record twice. What changed to make that happen in February?

"Nothing much, really. I tried to play my game and that's it. Something different happens in every game. In this case, I scored a lot but it was product of our game, of the way we play. I am really trying to help the team in many other ways than just scoring."

Barcelona has a 20-game Top 16 winning streak despite being in one of the toughest groups ever this season. What is required for a team to raise its level the way Barca has at this time of the season for the last two years?

"First of all, we need to have good connection in our game, which we do. That's the first objective. We had a really great start of the Top 16 because we won three very important games on the road. That allowed us to keep playing well. We hope we can continue like this and finish first in our group, because if we do, we will have better options to go to the Final Four."

- - -

Barcelona went on to beat Laboral Kutxa on the road. You had an incredible game in front of Tibor Pleiss, one of the best defensive big men in the competition. Did you have any special game plan against him?

"Well, we had a game plan on how to stop him - his points and rebounds! Playing against him on offense... I just tried to play my game. We are preparing game by game but in this game, we didn't prepare anything special against him. We ran our plays and tried to score easy points. I found myself in a good situation during the game."

Against Anadolu Efes in Istanbul, you became the first player since Arvydas Sabonis 10 years ago to get at least 25 points and 15 rebounds in a Top 16 game. What was the key for you to have a career-best performance like that?

"First of all, I heard about that just today. It is an honor to be in the same sentence with Arvydas Sabonis. I don't even know what to say about it - it is something amazing. It was the club's 300th game in the Euroleague and that motivated us to play better. We all wanted to win that game because it was a special one in the history of his club. I felt really good from the first minute and tried to score and rebound as I always do. I didn't think anything special before the game, like 'I am going to score 30 today'. Not really. I tried to help my team in the best way possible."

- - -

You seem to be very comfortable playing alongside Erazem Lorbek and Bostjan Nachbar, who can open the floor and give you more space to play in the low post. How much do you like playing with them?

"Those guys are different players: Lorbek is more of an inside player and Boki played small forward for a long time, so he plays mostly outside. That is great for our team. I like to play with both of them. We also hang out off the court. We speak the same language, also Marko Todorovic, and spend time together."

You look really confident, unstoppable at times. Do you think that you are playing some of the best basketball in your career these days?

"Yes, it is possible. After the games I had this month and the numbers I had in the Euroleague, you say I am playing some of the best basketball of my life."

- Javier Gancedo, Euroleague.net, March 4, 2014

Check out the link for the full interview, and thanks to Javier for putting it up online for us fans to read!



Now, well, here's the bad news Jazz fans. Tomic signed a 3 year deal (plus a player's option for a 4th season) back in July 2012. Next season (2014-2015) will be a contract year for him, unless he elects to opt in for that fourth year (2015-2016). If the Jazz were going to buy him out, it could be cheaper than it's ever been if they do it this summer. However, I see no indication that he is ever going to come here. We do have a bunch of bigs already in Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, and Rudy Gobert. So perhaps it's for the best. Still, though, assets are best if they are used. Can't we get at least a second rounder from the Brooklyn Nets for him if we're never going to bring him over?

Regardless, congrats again to Tomic. You are a great player, and I wish you would come to play for our Jazz. It would be nice to bring someone A.Tomic to the Melta Center.

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