Tomislav Ivisic has impressed observers in helping U18 Buducnost VOLI Podgorica reach the third-place game at the Euroleague Basketball Adidas Next Generation Tournament Belgrade. But the talented big man has been missing a major partner on his side in the Serbian capital.
Ivisic averaged 20.0 points, 13.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.0 steals and 3.7 blocks for a performance index rating of 34.7 in the group phase of the tournament. The the big highlight was his outstanding game against U18 Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana, with 29 points, 17 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and 4 blocks for a 48 PIR.
"I'm happy that everyone can see my hard work and my progress. I also have some senior experience, so it helps a lot while playing my age group," Ivisic said. "It's not easy. There are a lot of good teams here and a lot of games in a few days. But I prepared for it."
This is his second time playing in this competition after appearing at the ANGT Valencia in 2019-20, where he played for U18 Cibona Zagreb.
"The biggest thing I learned from Valencia last year is definitely that teamwork always wins, not individuals," said the 2.16 meter center, who averaged 4.5 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in Valencia.
While Ivisic standing out in Belgrade is not a surprise given his development over the years, it is a little easier to distinguish him this time around. Tomislav has regularly had his twin brother Zvonimir Ivisic as a running mate. But Zvonimir, who is a bit taller at 2.19 meters, is not in Belgrade because he is dealing with a knee injury.
Tomislav said he and his brother have always helped each other with everything -. also in a competitive way.
"We always competed about who is better, and in that way we both push each other to be better players. We complement one another and when one of us makes a mistake, the other is there to correct it. It's the same thing off the court," said Tomislav, who used to play football as a goalkeeper before concentrating on basketball.
And even though the twins look alike, their games do have differences.
"The difference between me and him is that he plays more the outside game with pick-and-pop, and I play the inside game more with pick-and-roll. He is a better shooter, but we can both shoot threes," said Tomislav, who has made 5-of-13 three-pointers for 38.5% in Belgrade.
Tomislav and his brother have been together their whole career, growing up in the small town of Vitez in central Bosnia and Herzegovina about 60 kilometers northwest of Sarajevo and then heading to Croatian club Sibenik and its excellent academy.
"The most important reason why we choose Sibenik was to develop our skills as young players because coaches there teach young players to develop every skill they have or have potential for," said Ivisic, who models his game after Nikola Jokic because of his game style and confidence.
Ivisic received playing time in a couple of games in the Croatian League in 2018-19 and then was a regular with the pro team in 2019-20, averaging 3.5 points and 2.5 rebounds in 14 games. Zvonimir also got into a couple of games last season as well.
The brothers also played together at the ANGT Valencia last season as well as for Croatia at the FIBA U16 European Championship 2019. That was actually the second U16 continental tournament for Tomislav, who helped Croatia win the title in 2018.
"Winning the U16 European Championship was a huge thing for me personally and for the whole team. We worked hard that summer and we believed we could achieve good things at the tournament. But to be honest, we didn't expect to take first place," joked Ivisic, who averaged 1.5 points and 2.3 rebounds playing a year younger than the rest of the competition.
This past summer, the twins left Sibenik and signed on with Montenegro side Buducnost.
"We decided that it's time to leave Sibenik for somewhere better for our basketball careers, and Buducnost contacted us and we really liked their history about developing young players," Tomislav explained.
"At this tournament, I am trying to show my potential and my hard work from the last six or seven months, and I hope the team can fight for the ANGT Finals," he said.
Should Buducnost get selected to play at the ANGT Finals, Tomislav Ivisic could once again have his twin brother alongside him, too.