The Cairns Taipans have elevated development player Fabijan Krslovic to their #NBL20 squad, with the University of Montana graduate signing a one-year deal for his first NBL playing contract.
The 208cm forward featured in eight games for the Taipans last season, with an impressive debut against Adelaide of 11 points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes on the floor.
He has continued to perform well for Cairns, currently playing for the Marlins under Taipans assistant Jamie O’Loughlin in his second consecutive QBL season. In just 10 games, Krslovic has had six double-doubles, averaging 16.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and shooting at 55 per cent from the field.
Taipans Head Coach Mike Kelly said that it wasn’t so much his QBL numbers, but the way he has conducted himself over the last 18 months in the far north that earned him a spot on the roster.
“The day-to-day for our development players is important, and so his involvement within the Cairns Basketball system has really demonstrated to us how much he has developed.
“It’s not necessarily the numbers but how they play the game. Fab has been great with the Marlins – he’s a smart basketball player who plays the right way.
“Of course, he’s gotten great stats but there has been an impressive progression from him and that will continue into the future,” he said.
Coach Kelly acknowledged that while there are still key signings to come, Krslovic still fits perfectly into the puzzle that the Taipans coaching staff are meticulously piecing together.
“We’re trying to put together the best roster we can, and when we feel confident about a player in a position, then we’ll make an offer. And that’s what’s happened. We could have done this deal earlier, or we could’ve waited and done it later, but the timing feels right now,” he said.
“We’ve known him for over a year now, and we’ve always had a good feeling about Fab. We tested him last season, and he did well when he was inserted into the game. This also gives him time to mentally prepare for the season ahead, but knowing Fab, I know that he will just continue to work hard and continue to try to get better. And that’s why we signed him.”
Prior to coming to Cairns, Krslovic played for the Montana Grizzlies and was named to the Big Sky Academic All-Conference team three times, won the Coaches’ Award twice and earned NACB honours for a 4.0 GPA in his four-year collegiate campaign.
He completed his senior year with the Captain’s Award and Most Inspirational Player Award, after starting in all 34 contests and averaging 7.4 points and 5.1 rebounds in 24.9 minutes per game.
Krslovic suited up for every UM game from 2014 – 2018 and remains in the Top 10 of UM history with 126 career steals.
Just shy of his 24th birthday, Krslovic said that signing a full-time playing contract with the Taipans was a dream come true.
“I had a great experience last year with the Taipans, being involved with a professional team helped me lift my game and I’ve built really good relationships with Mike, Jamie and Brad since I arrived in Cairns,” said Krslovic.
“I am really excited about taking this next step and feel really fortunate I get to do that with the Taipans. It’s getting to the point now where Cairns feels like home – I love living here, I love playing here and this season is going to be even better.”
Krslovic joins Tom Jervis, Majok Deng, Jarrod Kenny and Mirko Djeric on the Taipans roster, with more signings due to be announced in the coming weeks.