In the IV edition, the only Croatian player who participated in the Tournament and, for now, plays in the NBA, was part of Drazen Petrovic’s Croatian team: DARÍO SARIC:
Born in Sibenik on 8 April 1994, he is a 2.08 cm power forward for the Phoenix Suns, NBA runners-up in the 2020/21 season. Considered the great hope of Croatian basketball, he declined Baskonia’s 8-year offer to sign for KK Zagreb, which would allow him to be free in 3 seasons if he so wished. The son of former Serbo-Croatian player Predrag Saric, at just 15 years of age he was around two metres tall (197 cm) and could move around any position on the outside line, although in his last year, before the Tournament, he played mainly as a point guard. His good performance in these first years as a player has allowed him to reach the Croatian U-16 National Team with whom he has competed in several international championships. Caja Laboral Baskonia had been following him for a long time and was able to see him live for the first time at the end of the 2007/08 season, when he went as one of the components of the KK Drazen Petrovic team to Cantabria for the Tournament where his team did not have an outstanding performance, being classified in seventh place, but where Saric began to leave details of his quality with remarkable penetrations to the basket and his great physical power and his control of the game with both hands.
After a few months of effort to get a player who even visited Vitoria on several occasions, the Croatian and his entourage decided to opt for the offer of KK Zagreb, which also contemplated a contract for 8 seasons with the possibility of extending the contract up to a decade, being financially superior to that of Zagreb. But finally the player’s desire to stay in his homeland made him sign for the third team in the Croatian league.
At the age of 16 he made his debut for Cibona Zagreb, where he played until 2013. In 2013/14 he won the Croatian League (MVP), the Croatian Cup and the Adriatic League.
Between 2014 and 2016 he played for Efes Pilsen, where he was voted FIBA Best Young Player for the second consecutive season.
With the Croatian national team, he was named MVP at the Albert Schweitzer Tournament in Mannheim and won the gold medal at the European Under-16 Championship in Montenegro and the European Under-18 Championship in Lithuania.
In 2014 he was drafted 12th overall by the Orlando Magic, although it was not until the 2016/17 season that he made his NBA debut with the Philadelphia 75ers, being selected in the rookie quintet. In 2018 he left the 75ers and signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves (2018/19), before joining his current team, the Phoenix Suns, in 2019.
In the first game of the 2020/21 finals, he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. An injury from which he has recovered.
But it was in Philadelphia where he reached the playoffs for the first time and his best numbers in that phase:
- 32.9 minutes per game
7.3 rebounds per game
4 blocks per game
To date he has played a total of 356 games, 205 as a starter (57.6%).
Check all our legends here.