|11 July 2014|
|Tomislav Gabric looks to add another medal to his impressive collection|
By Dimitris Kontos
Tomislav Gabric of Croatia is not only leading his team in scoring and minutes played at the U20 European Championship 2014 but is also the proud owner of a track record unique among all players in this tournament.
The versatile forward, who only turns 19 in August, has represented his country in every possible youth group during his young career and, on Crete, he has in fact pulled on Croatia's chequered red-and-white jersey in a sixth tournament during a period of just four years.
Gabric made his international debut in 2011, at the U16 European Championship in the Czech Republic and helped Croatia cruise to the gold medal.
In 2012, he averaged 8.5 points and 4.2 rebounds per game as Croatia stepped on the third place on the podium at the FIBA U17 World Championship.
A few days later he joined the U18 team at the European Championship in Lithuania and Latvia to hang another gold medal around his neck.
The insatiable Gabric repeated the double-participation feat last summer.
He first played for Croatia at the FIBA U19 Word Championship in Prague and then helped the U18 national team reach the final of the European Championship, where they fell to Turkey.
The young Tomislav visited with fibaeurope.com to shed some light onto the driving force behind his impressive track record.
It must be tempting, especially for a young man, to go on holiday in the summer. Have you secretly cloned yourself in order to appear in all these youth tournaments with Croatia in the last years?
I really love my country, it has a big place in my heart. Since the first time they called me up for the national team, I haven't missed a single gathering, training camp or championship. It's a big honour for me to play for Croatia and I always give 100% of me.
In addition to your four medals with Croatia, you were recently crowned ABA Adriatic League champion with Cibona Zagreb. Is there one among these titles at such a young age that has a special importance to you?
Every medal meant a lot to me and was a moment to remember. If I have to differentiate between them, the U18 gold and U17 bronze medals were really special and I will never forget them, as I played to the maximum of my ability and was satisfied with my game. I cannot count the Adriatic League title up there, since I hardly played.
None the less, your trajectory from Sibenik to a championship title in your first year with Cibona Zagreb brings back memories of a certain Croatian legend.
[He laughs] I am actually from Drnis originally. I was born in Sibenik, but I spent almost all my life in Drnis, until 8th grade, then I switched to the high school in Sibenik and played there for three years before going to Cibona.
You seem very comfortable as a power forward in this tournament, does this mean you prefer playing at the '4' spot rather than at the small forward spot?
At my club I always play at the '3', but since we have a lot of small forwards in the national team and we don't have a dominant inside game or lots of tall centers, I play at the four spot with the national team. It's more of a stretch four, so I can use my outside shooting, penetrate and take advantage of slower defenders.
What do you like about yourself as a player and what do you consider to be your weakness?
Well, I consider my spot-up shot as one of my strengths. I'm aggressive, energetic, a big motivator, I always give energy to my team-mates. My ball-handling is a bit weaker, I have to work on that, and I also have to work on my speed and get quicker legs.
Will you add another medal to you collection in Crete?
[He smiles] I hope so!