New Zealand's Fotu finishes rookie campaign in style
MADRID (2015 FIBA Oceania Championship) - CAI Zaragoza knew what they were doing earlier this season when they signed New Zealand international Isaac Fotu to a three-year contract.
The Spanish club may be second-guessing itself, however, for not keeping the Tall Black in the squad for the entire year instead of letting him join La Bruixa d'Or Manresa.
The sweet-shooting Fotu paid major dividends for Manresa and capped a terrific rookie campaign with 17 points as the Aragon outfit upset Euroleague champions Real Madrid on the last day of the season to avoid relegation.
Sooooo we just beat the euroleague champs. What an end to the season!! SOMHI MANRESA!!!!— Isaac Fotu (@Ifotu42) May 24, 2015
The 21-year-old Fotu averaged 10.7 points and four rebounds per game for Manresa while shooting 38 percent (36 of 95) from behind the arc.
He connected on three of seven shots from long range against Real Madrid and also excelled in transition, finishing one fastbreak with a dunk
Fotu's star has been on the rise for a while, now.
While he has made headlines with the men's national team, Fotu is also one of his country's biggest talents in FIBA's 3x3 game.
In 2011, he scored the winning basket in the dying seconds for New Zealand to give them a 19-18 win over Bulgaria in the title game of the 3x3 world youth title.
The experience was important for Fotu's development.
Fotu shot to prominence with the Tall Blacks in Spain at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
After starting the tournament with three straight defeats, the third against the United States, New Zealand got their tournament on track against Ukraine.
Fotu came to the fore and had 10 points and 10 rebounds in a 73-61 victory for the Kiwis.
That result set up a do-or-die showdown against Finland with a spot in the Round of 16 at stake.
Fotu erupted for game-high 18 points and corralled eight rebounds in a 67-65 triumph over the Susijengi.
Fotu also had 11 points in their next game against Lithuania, but the Baltic side scraped a 76-71 triumph to end the New Zealand run.
While Australia will be favorites at the 2015 FIBA Oceania Championship, players like Fotu are going to make the Tall Blacks formidable opponents.
The winners will clinch a spot in the Rio de Janeiro Games, while the losers will compete in the 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.