Isaac Fotu (NZL)
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Fotu returns to Spain, joins CAI Zaragoza

ZARAGOZA (Liga Endesa) - Hawaii’s loss has turned out to be CAI Zaragoza's gain.

The Spanish club early Thursday afternoon announced they have signed Isaac Fotu, a 20-year-old who was a big hit in two years with the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors in American college basketball and the New Zealand Tall Blacks at the FIBA Basketball World Cup.

Fotu, an all-conference selection with his university last season, decided to turn professional following the sacking of his college coach, Gib Arnold.

He is excited to be back in Spain, where he averaged 9.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game for the Kiwis and helped them reach the Round of 16.

The World Cup experience, he said in a statement issued by Zaragoza, was crucial for his development.

"I think my presence on the national team is an experience that will help me to better adapt to professional basketball," he said.

"The World Cup is a tough competition and helped me get used to playing against more veteran players and more experienced people."

Fotu revealed himself to be a huge talent in Bilbao and Barcelona, where the New Zealanders played in Group C and then the Round of 16.

He shot 41 percent from three-point range and 60.5 percent from the floor overall.

With the Kiwis facing early elimination, coach Nenad Vucinic turned to Fotu and he rewarded him with 10 points and 10 rebounds in a 73-61 victory over Ukraine, 18 points and eight boards in a 67-65 come-from-behind triumph over Finland and then 11 points in a 76-71 setback to Lithuania.

The 2.03m forward has a soft shooting touch from outside and is also combative on the inside.

"I can score in different ways if the team needs it," he said. 

"I can play inside, knock it from outside and even shoot from outside the three-point line.

"I'm willing to do anything for the team to win."

CAI have signed an ambitious player.

"The first thing is to help the CAI Zaragoza win games," he said. 

"In that sense, I'm going to do everything in my power to make that happen. 

"Personally, I want to work hard every day to have a chance in the NBA."

Next summer, Fotu is expected to turn out for for New Zealand at the FIBA Oceania Championship where he will help them try to qualify for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

With CAI, he will have a chance to play in Liga Endesa games and in the Eurocup.