Cleveland Cavaliers big man Ante Zizic has been granted a leave of absence from this year’s Summer League conclusion. The 6-foot-11, 250-pound center will fly home to his native Croatia for their FIFA World Cup Finals matchup against France. According to several reports, he’ll watch the game with his family.
Zizic, now 21 years of age, accepted the Cavs’ offer. In fact, he boarded a flight to his hometown of Split, Croatia on Friday morning.
Here’s an awesome story to start your @FIFAWorldCup final weekend. The @Cavs have excused @ante_zizic from #NBASummerLeague so he can fly to #Croacia & be with his family and whole country as his home team looks for its first World Cup Title on Sunday against France. #HRVATSKA
— Rafa El Alcalde (@ElalcaldeRafa) July 14, 2018
Croatia has made five World Cup appearances over the years, with this one marking their first trip to the final round. Their previous best finish was third place in 1998, when they defeated the Netherlands.
Ivan Rakitić claims that Croatia will feel the support of their entire country when they face France in the World Cup final. 💪 pic.twitter.com/DRoPgPNwjb
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) July 14, 2018
As most fans of the team will remember, Zizic came to the Cavs as part of a trade with the Boston Celtics last summer — the same trade that led to Kyrie Irving’s departure from Cleveland.
Zizic, who hasn’t been home in 11 months, didn’t get a ton of playing time in his rookie campaign. However, there is no doubt the Cavs like what they see. In his 32 games played last season, Zizic turned in averages of 3.7 points and 1.9 rebounds.
Through two Summer League appearances with Cleveland, Zizic racked up averages of 20.5 points and 12.5 rebounds, leaving little doubt as to why the team is high on his game. He didn’t play in Wednesday’s 96-84 win over the Sacramento Kings. According to Joe Vardon of cleveland.com, Zizic was seated on the baseline watching Croatia defeat England on a tablet owned by one of the Cavs’ front office members.
The Cavs are set to face the Houston Rockets on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. EST. Cleveland is 3-1 overall and 1-0 in tournament play in this year’s Summer League games. Let’s see if the team can keep its momentum rolling.